You stood before my dresser mirror brushing your hair. I stood a few feet away and watched you.
You wore no socks, no shoes, and I couldn’t help but think, “My, what big feet you have.”
“The better to wear high heels with,” I supposed.
I saw the silk of your hair and noted how your lips are still as plump as when you were a baby. With your large, blue-green eyes and the slope of your nose, you are beautiful, but you haven’t realized this yet.
I, however, have known it all along.
I observed your long legs and thought about how you have outgrown yet another bike. Your figure is changing too. You are maturing, and every day, I hold my breath… and wait. It won’t be long before we are shopping for bras and I am watching your cheeks flush with embarrassment.
Lately I joke that if you had an extra head atop your own, you’d be as tall as me. What you cannot know is that each time I wrap my arms around you, I kiss your parted hair if only to measure whether you’ve grown. I rest my chin, breathe in your smell, and try to be your cloak, to protect you.
In front of that mirror, for just a moment, you seemed already a woman, and I was mesmerized.
But then, the brush got snagged in a knot of hair and you turned to me for help. Just like that, you were my child again, albeit one with great, big feet.
Still, the shift has begun. The other evening when I reminded you to use better table manners, I felt the weight of your stare. There was resistance there and defiance flickered in your irides. For now, these challenges pass quickly, but soon, you will be consumed. When that time comes, you will gnash your teeth and growl at me. You will attack when you feel you’ve been provoked–and everything will provoke you.
I know because when I was only a little older than you, I stopped listening to my mother. I ventured into the dark wood and was swallowed whole by the wolf.
Your feet may seem in disproportion to the rest of you now, but when you are freed from the beast, your transformation will be complete. You won’t be my little red riding hood any longer, but I will still be your mother and I will await the day I hear your high heeled shoes on that well-worn path as you return home, to me.