I write about birthdays often. They’re the most obvious time passage markers. As a mom, the passage of time is a cruel and wonderful thing.
When they’re new, smelling of innocence and perfection, the nights seem long, but the months fly by. We measure time in weeks, then months. The months turn to years, and we mark time with age-appropriate milestones like “first loose tooth” and “riding a two-wheeler.” The lines between milestones and everyday things, like homework, soccer practice and household chores to name a few, start to blur. Life passes with an urgency that won’t subside. If we’re not careful, it’ll all pass by without notice, simply because survival is key.
My girl sits in a strange place. She is still a child, wanting me to braid her hair and snuggle her. She has an innocence I wish would never leave.
Discussing Snapchat with her the other day, a conversation about real life and a common conversation in our house, I warned her once again about social media and why she has restrictions her friends do not. Her wide-eyed awe at the cruelness of the world was remarkable. Still so little.
But she wears mascara to school now. I let her, because it’s so minimal. I remind her that makeup isn’t what makes her pretty. Real beauty comes from treating people with kindness. She nods, smiling that million-dollar smile.
When the mean girls surface, and they’re everywhere, she cries, dumbfounded by their behavior. I tell her to remember this feeling. Knowing how it feels is the best way to save someone else from hurting. She nods, saying she’ll remember.
She watches the news, trying to understand. I tell her, but I hate to let her know. The world is big. She nods, not really understanding, but she gets it somehow.
She wonders about life. What will it be like to drive? When do people get married? How much should she study, and what classes should she take in seventh grade? Why are friendships hard? I nod, reminding her I’m always here to answer.
When I see photos of her at 2, 3, and even 10, I try to remember what it was like when she was simply a little girl. “I do it ALL by myself,” was her catchphrase, and she’s most famous for, “I’m not gonna do it.” Once, she held my leg, screaming like a banshee, while I ignored her and dragged her across the big soccer field at the Y. That stubbornness is showing up in different ways now. She knows what she wants. She still needs guidance, and she has a plan.
I thought the golden years were between the ages of 5 and 10 years old, when they are becoming independent but don’t hate us yet. I might’ve been wrong. This little spot is pretty sweet. I get the best of both worlds. My little girl is ever present, and a young woman is right there behind her. And all the moms nod, knowing exactly what I mean.