Today, as I dropped Bean off at preschool, we were a few minutes later than we usually are. The door to the classroom was already open, and she started to head in without saying goodbye. “Hey!” I said, “where’s my kiss?” “Ohhh, duh” she said, slapping her head in a gesture I’ve done myself, many times. I bent down as she turned her sunflower face to me, open and beautiful, framed by the purple petals of her dress and matching hair bow. “Have a good day, love you, see you later.” I said, after kissing her, a scene that has replayed countless times in my 25 years of motherhood, first with her mother, then her uncle. I will be there to pick her up when school is over, she knows that I will, as I know that she will greet me, face up, radiant smile on her face.
Our little ones are like this, at least for a short while, hungrily lapping up attention and affection rays as greedily as a seedling, their small stature forcing them to look up at us, their sun. But our sunflower will grow, and there will come a time when she will be your height or taller. Then, you will raise your face to your flower, as eager for affection and attention as they once were. If you have cultivated what you have sown, with rains of structure and discipline, winds of hope and love, and rays of joy, if you have tended your little garden faithfully, pulling weeds and whispering words of encouragement, and with a little luck on your side, someday your sunflower will smile down on you. Eagerly, you might say, “hey! Where’s my kiss?!?” Your flower, woman sized now, will incline her lovely head and you will kiss her forhead before she leaves for school, driving now. “Have a good day, love you, see you later,” you cheerfully wave her off, while you throw a prayer out to the universe or to God, “take care of my baby, keep her safe.” You are no longer the gardener in her life and you can only hope that the seed you planted, cultivated, showered, and weeded, will bloom making the world a more beautiful place, bright and joyful like a sunflower.