Recently, my daughter and I were reading Before I Was Your Mother by Kathryn Lasky. It occurred to me while we were on a long car ride and I was feeling nostalgic, that this would make a good writing exercise for me. My daughter loves to hear stories about “when I was a girl,” especially sad or scary ones, since she knows they end well. So…here is my version of the story. Feel free to play along and send me a link to your story.
You know, I wasn’t always your mother. I used to be a little girl just like you. I had a best friend named Melinda, another named Connie, and a dog named Brownie. We used to pretend to be Nancy Drew and solve crimes all throughout our neighborhood. We baked mud pies in Melinda’s backyard. We formed the Clemson Tiger club; and Melinda’s mother made us shake hands and say we were sorry when we argued.
I wasn’t always your mother who tells you to be quiet when I’m on the phone or to remember to use your inside voice.
Once, Melinda and I sat on her bed singing “Delta Dawn” and “Da do run run” into her tape recorder at the top of our lungs. And then there was the time when Connie and I tried roller skating down the stairs and through her living room.
I wasn’t always your mother who makes a pajama run to school and goes everywhere in fuzzy Crocs until the winter snow piles too high or the summer heat comes.
Once I was a little girl who like to dress Brownie in Grandma’s old hats, who wore smocked dresses, and then graduated proudly to shiny patent leather zippered boots.
I wasn’t always your mother, standing on the ground watching you perform, waving, taking pictures.
Once I was a little girl who climbed high in the tops of her favorite trees, jumping down scraped and sticky with pine sap. I savored long walks in the woods with my mother, holding fast to her hand as we crossed the busy street and stole into Mr. Roberts’ woods. I treasured the tiny souvenirs she would bring home to place on the kitchen table…a pine cone, a pebble, a leaf.
I wasn’t alway your mother, glaring at you, asking if you need a time out, reminding you to be kind to your brother.
Once Aunt Cindy and I wrestled on the floor of our room til we drew blood — after we had taped a “yours” and “mine” “do not cross” line down the center of our room. We needed a time out. After we cooled off, we made up and laughed while we danced in the living room to “Disco Duck” and the Jackson Five.
I wasn’t always your mother telling you the darkness has no power over you and imploring you to practice going to sleep on your own — without me at your side.
Once I was a little girl who dreaded climbing the staircase alone — who played possum on Daddy’s lap so I wouldn’t have to — who turned off the bedroom light, then ran and took a flying leap so the alligators under my bed wouldn’t bite my feet.
Now I am your mother and you are my girl. I snuggle with you and tell you stories about when I was a girl who put on shows in the backyard, played freeze tag, caught lightning bugs, and climbed trees. We make up stories of what we’ll dream about — and I dream of the stories you will share with your little girl someday.