There's a little girl inside me. She's swathed in the body of a thirty-something-year-old mama, but she's there.
She was stifled, tucked away, quieted, for a very long time, and only occasionally peeked out, in a giggled conversation with friends, at a happy memory, or when something made her eager with anticipation. She hid, though. She was so afraid that if she allowed herself to be seen for too long, the woman she was trying so desperately to grow into would become overshadowed. She feared ridicule.
But things are different now.
She comes to play quite often, though she chooses to come out very selectively. She likes to be taken care of. She loves having her hair brushed or braided. She adores being read to, or listening to stories. She breathes with little sighs of relief when she's tucked into bed at night. She likes viewing things with innocent eyes. She likes seeing the beauty in the world around her, uninhibited by cynicism.
Sometimes she pouts when she gets in trouble. But she tries not to. That only gets her in more trouble, you see.
She is not allowed to be reckless, or petulant, and she must conduct herself with decorum. But she plays freely. Her life is structured and disciplined, but she is free.
The little girl in me was surprised when she found herself addressed as such – “baby,” “little one,” "baby girl," and even the literal, “little girl,” helped coax the little girl out of hiding. It makes her feel special. Cared for.
She laughs often. She no longer fears her presence will detract from the maturity she yearned for. No, no, that fear has been laid to rest. Because now she realizes she was there all along, beside the woman, a part of her that never could quite fully go away, but only hid because she was afraid.
She no longer hides in fear. Now, she is happy. She is well cared for. Now, the little girl in me roams free, because she is safe.
It was the freedom to be who she was she yearned for all along. The little girl is here to stay.