Last week, I was on the telephone very late one night, when Sabrina came into my room to tell me she was nervous about some things at school and so couldn’t sleep. I briefly interrupted my conversation, reassured her and told her to go back to bed. I would come tuck her in and check on her when I finished my conversation.
The following morning, as we were in the kitchen preparing breakfast, the following conversation ensued:
Sabrina: Who were you talking to so late last night?
TPG: Hmmm… Who do you think?
Sabrina (spoken with authority): Well, it wasn’t Pete.
TPG: Really? How do you know?
Sabrina (shrugging): Because you didn’t have your smile in your voice.
As often happens in my parenting moments, I was struck dumb. Dumb by her wisdom. Dumb by her perception. Dumb by her ability to so beautifully and succinctly capture in words the happiness I feel when I am sharing time with Pete, even over the phone.
But later, reflecting on the conversation, I was also aware of how profound that moment probably was for Sabrina, albeit unconsciously so. What did she learn in that small moment about dating, how a man should make you feel, what falling in love might look like? I often forget that I am constantly on stage for my daughters — they are critics in the front row, taking subconscious notes of my behaviors, my values, my choices. My actions and words broadcast messages and lessons to them all day and in every way, and most times I am thankfully unaware of their scrutiny. But every once in a while, it hits me.
I want my girls to have relationships with men who treat them so well and enrich their lives in ways that I cannot. I want them to feel accepted and valued and safe. I want them to fall in love without fear of that love being returned. I want, someday, to overhear a conversation between them and their guy, and hear a smile in their voice. And if I do, my heart will sing.