I love having a child. Granted, she is not a child anymore – she is almost 17. Wow.

I guess I need to stop saying that I’m trying to lose the baby weight.

Here are some of the wonderful things about being a mother:

1. Getting to know the amazing person who is my daughter. I’m so glad her little soul chose me.
2. The idea that I made this person out of a seed is remarkable. She’s the best thing I ever made. Even better than my eggplant parmesan.
3. She has taught me more about what’s important in this world than almost anyone I have ever met.
4. Through her, I have remembered what it is like to be a child.

There are lots more things I could say, but it’s that last one that I want to focus on. When I was on a walk yesterday, I passed a playground. A little girl, about four years old, was pushing an empty swing. She had estimated her distance from the arc of the swing so that it would just hit her fingers enough for her to push it gently to keep the momentum going.

I saw her, and I remembered doing that exact thing when I was little-little.

That reminded me of how my daughter caused me to recapture my own childhood. She did so in a thousand different ways. When I started reading to her (when she was three weeks old), I started remembering the books that I had loved as a child. Our trips to the library when she was small were like opening a door into a forgotten and beloved room for me. I introduced her to The Moon Jumpers, Dr. Seuss, Dorie the Little Witch, Harry the Dirty Dog – all these beloved stories I had set aside like I set aside my stuffed animals as I grew up. (She helped me recapture my love of those, too – I have a few around the house now.)

She re-taught me, when she was small, that treasures came from the most unlikely places. Because she was so close to the ground, she spent a lot of time looking down. Every place we went, she seemed to find something unusual and special. Maybe it was a fallen blossom from a geranium. Many it was a penny. Maybe it was a pretty rock. Or a lost earring never to be returned to its owner, but now a treasured jewel for a little girl. Even now that she is grown up, I am more aware of what’s beneath my feet and before my eyes. I notice so much more, and my life is richer for it.

With her, I remembered how to imagine. I played a hundred characters and invented a host of voices and storylines to suit the imagination games we played. We created restaurants, food banks, wizarding schools, sports teams, and outrageous sophisticates.

I remembered how to have inside jokes, and how to laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe. I remembered how to have uncontrollable giggle fits that could last for ages, about nothing.

I remembered what it was like to see things for the first time. I remembered what it was like to have a rat’s nest in my long hair, and how much I hated having my mother brush it, and it made me compassionate for her fussing when I had to brush hers.

I suppose, in summary, I learned how to be a child again, as I was learning how to be a grown-up, and how to be a mother. I know that a lot of grown-ups scorn childlike feelings and behaviors, and they are missing a huge joy by doing so. I am all of those things, now. And my spirit is lighter and closer to heaven for it.

Thank you, my daughter.