Written by: Kayla Sykes
When I was 22 years old, a year shy of becoming a mother; I found myself in the middle of an H.E.B pushing around a shopping cart with two girls that I barely knew, but would soon be living and working with in Texas.
“You look like such a Mom, Kayla!”
“Yeah, you look like such a natural! I can totally see you with like 5 kids, grocery shopping!”
I probably looked like a Mom because I was 3 years older than both of them, and newly engaged. Or maybe it was the fact that my Grandparents have 12 kids, and everyone has taken on a roll of babysitter at a young age, because with a family my size you don’t have a choice. Sometimes I think about what those girls said and laugh to myself while I’m walking through Kroger pushing one of those giant grocery carts with the plastic car attached. I think back to the person I was before I truly understood what life was. I think about the last 3 years of my life, and realize that the best teacher I have ever had is a child; my child.
On June 7, 2011 my world changed for the better, and so did yours if you know Elliette. But she came without instructions…
The first week we were home from the hospital I convinced myself that I did something wrong. I fed her a bottle, and she fell asleep for a really long time. That may have been the first time in almost a week that 10 minutes went by without a noise from her. And I was scared! As a new mom ten minutes feels like ten hours. Ten hours in a clean shirt and makeup? I win! But ten minutes of silence is concerning. I will say the same as a mom of a toddler. Ten minutes of silence is very concerning.
The very first thing she taught me was that freaking out is normal. It’s just a normal reaction to new (and silent) situations for first time parents.
If it weren’t for her I never would have found myself in a stare down with a toy box that would end up
curing toning down my obsessive organizing. The amount of time I was spending putting her toys away in places that probably only made sense to me was absurd. Isn’t the point of a toy box to teach a child to put their things away? She had her own way of putting stuff away, she wanted to clean her own room. So I let her. The very next day I went into her room, and it took every ounce of me to let it go (as Elsa would say). I stared that sucker down, my cheeks were hot, my heart was pounding, and my head was saying “back away from the toys… back AWAY from the toys!!!” My cheeks are getting hot just thinking about that day.
But this is when she taught me compromise. And now there is a ‘pinterest inspired princess dress up book room nook’ that keeps a fine line of separation between toys. It’s a win win!
My visions of having a girl were pink and glittery. So, much of her interests surprise me. It’s currently revolving around all things nature. The touch of the grass, the sounds of the crickets, the excitement of jumping in rain puddles, the joy of picking every single flower in sight, and mud. And one day she showed me how much she really loved mud. By pouring a few buckets of dirt into the baby pool at my Grandma’s.
“I’m sorry Mom, I was just making soup, but Lilah did too… it’s ok!”
And when was I supposed to prepare for an obsession with spiders? I once stood in the same spot for 45 minutes wearing an army helmet, dangerously armed with a baseball bat while I waited for her Dad to get home from work. Perfectly logical attire for finding a baby tarantula in your basement in North West, Ohio. My days are now spent youtubing spiders. I’m finally able to do so without getting creeped out. I actually find those little guys interesting.
Which is why it was completely appropriate to buy a bug house and magnifying glass for her. Now we lay in the grass looking for bugs. One of us is fearless, and the other is getting there.
And that is how she taught me the beauty in nature.
I wish I could capture all of the beauty and innocence of her in a mason jar. Her knowledge, her strength, her individuality, her love and compassion for all things living. The mason jar would hang from the instructions of Elliette Grace Sykes. The instructions that I receive on a daily. The instructions of beauty, innocence, life, and Elliette. These instructions weren’t given on the day of birth, because she is the instructor.
Planes at night are floating stars. Men with beards are like her father. Weather happens because of Jesus. And Santa Claus gives you wiggly teeth, and presents. Nature is incredible, and so are spiders, some times. Veggies are better than candy. Sunshine means morning. Every dog in the entire world is named Harvey. 3 hour car rides are her personal studio for Frozen, Taylor Swift, and Luke Bryan covers. Pink and purple are her favorite colors, not yours. Except ok, your favorite color has to be pink and purple. Rain boots are necessary, even in 90 degree dry weather. She is a teacher, just like Mom, and everyone else are the boys and girls. School buses are dreamt about. And bugs are just as cool as dolls. This is Elliette.
So if you see me pushing around one of those obnoxious carts with only one item, come say hi. We are just doing rounds around the store so I can hear her giggle again. We are making up for all those moments she wanted that car, but I was afraid of the germs. We are pushing around that car so I can hear her. Sometimes she is belting Taylor Swift, and sometimes she is repeating my road rage. Come on! Uhhhh… hello? It’s a green light, we’re running late people! And in the safety of that bulky car she is making memories.
And you my love, you are the sun. There is no ocean bluer or truer than you. The world is your lover, and it’s waiting to meet you.
Kayla Sykes is a mother, public school children’s aid and survivor. To reach Kayla, please email her email her