By Halina Newberry Grant
When you have a kid, every person with a pulse who has kids tilts their head, raises an eyebrow and says “enjoy this. Time flies and they grow so fast.” It’s a festering knell with every milestone, tolling in the background, echoing between your ears and vibrating your teeth. “If you don’t breathe in the sight of her chubby summer-bronzed hand making trails in the fur of the neighbor’s love-greedy cat, your life will be flooded with regret.”
I remedy the panic by taking lots and lots of pictures; documenting her outfits, her braids, her manic joy at the beach, her sweaty sleep and her grubby play. Trying to prove to everyone, I guess, that I am indeed appreciating every moment before it passes, despite the knell. Not just daily photos, but “these pigtails from every angle with the sun striking the cinnamon in her hair just right” photos. To show that I’m here, really here.
Something happened between my daughter turning two and my daughter turning three. Whole shoe sizes were skipped in a week. Then another half size before I could close the Velcro. When she moved from daycare to pre-school, the friends she had been collecting, whose names were carved into the stone of her daily routine, passing every milestone–from diaper to pull-up, trike to scooter, tummy-time to time-ins were unceremoniously replaced with new ones. No photo could capture this leap; the old friends were blurred ribbons and streaks in an action shot–there, but not really thereanymore.
My time is also vaguely disappearing. I don’t know what happens between drop-off and pick-up, but it’s never all that I planned or needed to accomplish. So while I’m chasing time, begging for another hour or two, it’s also chasing me, nipping at my heels, reminding me that we’re in a hurry hurry hurry or we’re going to be late. I’m either pulling at my toddler like taffy to get that other was-a-size-six-last-week-now-a-size-eight shoe on the right foot, or wishing I could attach a rubber band to her back so she’ll spring back to me faster than she can run, all while trying to get a picture that shows just right that I’m here, really here.
As the time disappears, so does her need for me. Maybe instead of time, that is what every parent is really chasing. With every passing day she needs me less–which is simultaneously liberating and heart breaking. In just three years time has expanded and contracted so many times, it has proven that it is not linear or real. It’s both constant and fleeting, here and not here.
Originally published on Mama Blah Blah Blog