She spent the entire day doing everything she should do: running around the back yard half-naked, jumping into a swimming pool, chasing the dog and playing superheroes with her big brother.
I read her favorite bedtime book, and she falls asleep in my arms. Most nights, I quickly slink out of the room so I can squeeze in a little more cleaning or work before I myself go to bed. But tonight, I linger.
As I watch that little girl breathe in and out, I’m reminded of how much we adults ruin everything.
This girl spends every day doing what she wants to do. She eats the carbs without worrying about the sugar, she relaxes on the couch when she is exhausted, she dances in the grocery store because her song came on.
And never, not once, does she look in a mirror and question what she sees.
I know this phase of life won’t last long. As I was dressing her for bed tonight, I couldn’t help but think, “Lord, this child has a cute butt.” Will there come a day when she is ashamed of her body?
As she chased her brother and his friends around the playground, the thought popped into my head that soon, the boys might be chasing her with an entirely different game in mind.
One day, I’ll peer into her room and see her fast asleep. I’ll think, “She’s so tired,” but it won’t be because she spent the day playing.
It will be because she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. She will feel pressured to look a certain way or act a certain way. She’ll battle between what’s right and what’s popular. She’ll struggle with self-image and self-love. One day, she will be overcome with exhaustion because she has spent the day worrying about her size, her hair, her grades, her future, her finances, her marriage, her kids.
But not now.
Tonight, she is allowed to dream about the things in life that matter: her family, delicious food, playing with friends.
Tonight, she can be a 3-year-old and fall asleep while holding her favorite doll in one hand and a plastic lion in the other.
Tonight, she gets to remind her mother that happiness isn’t found in a bank account or clean home or kids who always eat all their vegetables.
Tonight, she is perhaps more precious to me than she has ever been.
I walk out of her bedroom and gently close the door, wishing the adult world weren’t calling me away from the world we should all spend a little more time in: a 3-year-old’s world.