It was just another night, another bedtime routine. I entered my daughter’s room, grumbling under my breath about the messy state of her room. Hangers littering the floor, books scattered about, closet doors ajar, exposing piles of toys and clothes. I silently wondered why she can’t keep anything picked up.
And then I saw it. A frilly, floral shirt, outgrown and out of season. My mind flashed back to when I bought that shirt for my daughter, who’s no longer as little as she was then. I had bought it and pictured her wearing it on carefree summer days, her hair a tangled mess. I had imagined this frilly, floral shirt being stained by popsicles, and grass, and mud. I had pictured days spent at the park, this frilly, floral shirt rustling in the breeze of a perfect summer afternoon, my daughter’s hair flying freely.
And then I remembered the times my daughter had actually worn it, always mismatched with a handpicked skirt or pair of leggings, unafraid to show the world her unique take on fashion. I remembered her wearing it during an impromptu visit to the park, running through the sprinklers that just happened to be on. I remembered her wiping chalk covered hands on it as she declared that her latest sidewalk chalk masterpiece was complete. I remembered her wearing it to school, with hair braided on those falls days when she was just beginning kindergarten.
But I hadn’t thought about how she would only wear that frilly, floral shirt for so long. I hadn’t pictured her outgrowing it almost as quickly as I had pictured all that she would do while wearing it.
After recalling the life and times of that little frilly, floral shirt, it seems that now it’s just a shirt that is out of season and has been outgrown. But the sight of it caused me to imagine a season in which little hands are no longer around to make these messes. A time in which being at the center of my daughter’s life is suddenly out of season. And my heart broke open a little.
Just as I remembered the short season in which my not so little girl wore that shirt, I want to remember that these messes are proof she has not yet outgrown me. And if I’m lucky, she never will.