My daughter is suddenly huge to me. I watched her this morning as she stood on her tippy toes and reached her hand into the bathroom sink for her dropped toothbrush. I was so surprised, I nearly blurted out a few words you're not supposed to say in front of children. Even though I have seen, held, and quite literally been attached to this child every single day for longer than I care to calculate, it's as though I was staring at someone new.
I know she's 18 months old, walking, talking, and feeding herself. I just told her pediatrician these very things. I also know her exact height, weight and head circumference. Yet, somehow, I was utterly shocked when I saw her at the bathroom sink. My baby girl looked like a giant to me. I know this didn't happen overnight. I know it's been a gradual occurrence. But I feel like I blinked and she went from baby to toddler and I missed it.
I shouldn't be surprised, I know. I've gone through this with my boys, too. I remember a month or so ago, sitting next to my oldest son, and did a double take at him when I realized there wasn't even a trace of baby fat left in his face. One day he had these adorable, fat little cheeks, and the next I have this big boy sitting next to me on the couch reading a book to himself.
With my daughter, it was the height of her reach, with my oldest it was the absence of his cheeks, and with my middle son, it was the size of a snuggle. I recall the feel of him in my lap for a good-night hug as the startling discovery. His legs had to hang over the side of the chair when they normally tucked neatly under my arm for our nightly snuggle. I should be used to these moments, but they shock me each time.
With each discovery, I find myself jolted into an awareness of the passage of time that simply floors me. I look at them, live with them, and care for them each and every day. Some days I find myself just wishing the time away, looking forward to the peace that bedtime brings. But then I have a moment of acute awareness like these and I want to cry for the lost time.
A friend recently posed a question with the coming of the New Year. "It's the end of a decade with this New Year," she said. "What are your highlights from the 2000's!" It hit me like a brick that pretty much EVERYTHING had happened for me in those past ten years. Two big moves, two career changes, three different houses, my marriage, and all three of my children. While that is a lot to go through in the span of ten years, even that seems shocking to me. Of course all of that takes time. But how is it possible that it's been ten whole years?
Does this mean I'm not the same fresh, young twenty-something I was at the turn of the century? (Remember all of the Y2K hoopla?) I swear I still feel like I'm that same girl in many ways, yet when I break it all down, how could I possibly be the same? Forgetting all else, becoming a mother completely changed my daily actions, my thoughts, my feelings, my perspective, my whole life! How is it that I can register all of the changes, but still wonder where the time has gone?
My children love to stand next to their growth chart as we visibly mark their progress. Yet I don't seem to really SEE them as changed with the big milestones like birthdays, doctor's appointments and new clothing sizes. It's the little things that come without warning that seem to bowl me over, leaving me feeling like the wind has been knocked out of me.
My daughter's reach, my son's cheeks, or the feel of a snuggle. It's as though time is whizzing by in a warped rush of life that moves so quickly we don't notice it. But then I get a glimpse of my children, frozen for a moment, that makes me hold my breath because I can actually see the passage of time in them. I breathe again and the moment is gone, and the time warp picks up where it left off.
I'm grateful for those frozen moments, but wish I could anticipate them a bit more so I'd feel less shell-shocked when they occur. They remind me to try to slow down and appreciate my kids while they're little, just like all grandparents tell us we must do. It makes me sad to know that, as youth is wasted on the young, so is that sort of advice wasted on young mothers. We adore our children, and hopefully we're all blessed with lovely frozen moments to appreciate them. But reality whooshes in and leaves us frazzled, just wishing for bedtime more days than we care to admit.
With a new year in a new decade, I guess I'm supposed to make all kinds of big resolutions and promises and goals, but I'm not. Instead, I'm choosing to just make note of the little things like reach, cheeks, and snuggles. We may live in a time warp, but I'm living for those frozen moments.