June 28, 2007

Sometime, over the past few days, over the past few weeks, over some period of time that I have lost track of, WonderBaby became a little girl.

I don’t know when or how it happened. It wasn’t overnight; I would have noticed if she’d gone to bed a baby and awoken a girl. That is, at least, I think that I would have noticed. You would think that one would notice something so extraordinary as the transformation of one’s baby into a child. You would think that one would notice the body unfolding from its coil of plushy arms and legs, of curvy belly and apple cheeks, into a soft-muscled miniature form of the whole person that it will become.

You would think that you would notice, but you don’t.

My eyes only see my baby. My heart only registers her newness, her vulnerability, the extraordinary miracle of her having come-to-be. My daughter is, to me, still small and new and surprising. No matter how fierce, how fast, how powerful she demonstrates herself to be, she is still, to me, baby. And I am, to me, as a mother, still small and new and surprised. No matter how good at this I think I am still, to me, new.

She and I, then, are – must be – baby and mommy. I cradle her, and she presses herself against me and holds on to me, for life, for dear life, and I can only feel her as baby. Soft, downy, fragrant, curvy. Even in the dead heat of summer, as damp tendrils of wispy hair become pressed, wet, like flowers, between her neck and my cheek, as rivulets of body-water, streaked with the dirt of the sandbox, run down between her warm round belly and my own, she is, to me, as sweet and new as spring.

But, then, she pulls away and unfolds her long legs and demands her shoes. And then we walk, she and I, hand-in-hand to the park, where she breaks away and runs – speeds – to the slide, to the sawhorse, to her beloved swing (whing! whing! up mommy up! whing!), to the other children, running playing shrieking laughing breaking away.

And I wonder, when did this happen? And, how did I not see it happening? How did I not notice the moment when she uncoiled, unfurled, flowered into this little human being, this tiny independent creature who runs so fast and so far and so assuredly and who returns only to grab my hand not for her own comfort but for mine? Now mommy come.

Every day she flies higher, faster, further. Every day I look on in amazement, blinking against the sun, the rush of air, as my baby, my wee baby, takes flight. Every day I am astonished. Every day I am surprised.

Every day I whisper, softly, to myself: this is too fast.

The carousel spins and the swing soars and she runs and runs and shrieks with glee, feeling only the wind in her hair, the exhilaration of flinging herself into this world. I see only the blur of the landscape of our life together as it speeds by.

I squeeze my eyes together and I wish wish wish that it would slow down.

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    Magpie June 29, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Oh, so true.

    Mine’s a little older, and yesterday she actually looked like a kid. Sigh.

    Anonymous June 29, 2007 at 10:43 am

    i saw the little boy in my baby boy (20 months) yesterday for the first time. my breath caught. my heart broke. i closed my eyes and willed time to stand still.

    it is a weird feeling this motherhood thing – to look forward to their future and who they’ll become and at the same time wanting so much for them to remain as they are.

    tio2girl June 29, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Damn it! You made me cry with that post, and I really hate to cry! With an almost 4 yr old and an almost 1 yr old, I’ve been where you are now and will be there again in the near future. It’s amazing and wonderful to watch your children grow up, but at the same time it’s heartbreaking. Thanks for your wonderful post – even if it did make me cry. Off to go hug the kids now!

    Haley-O June 29, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    My little monkey has become a little girl, too! And, I love it! I love how every day she has more words, becomes more independent, etc.. She’s also newly stubborn, and has a BAD temper! But, yeah, I do love this growing up — you’re right, though, it doesn’t have to happen so fast!

    Teryn June 29, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    It’s the long legs — suddenly they’re kids. My baby boy (the last baby) is on the verge of getting tall — I’m so going to miss his chubby legs. I’m wondering why we decided not to have more.

    So sweet ….

    Kyla June 29, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Beautiful post. It is crazy how it happens. All of a sudden you have a CHILD and not a baby. It blindsides you.

    PunditMom June 29, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    How do you manage to write so beautifully about the things I have felt, as well? I don’t know how it happened that PunditBaby became a PunditGirl who seems to take up almost the whole length of her twin bed. Not really, but her arms and legs and body have all grown so much, I almost can’t remember the baby.

    jen June 29, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    oh, i know. oh, do i know.

    Mommato2 June 29, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    I am so right there with you. My 6 and 4 year olds are still my “babies” and I suspect I will be like that stalker Mother in Love You Forever sneaking into her grown children’s homes to rock them to sleep!

    Rebecca June 29, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    lovely writing!

    Jenn June 30, 2007 at 12:55 am

    62 comments later, I’m sure it’s all been said, but I’ll say it anyway: brilliant post.

    I’m still not over the “I’ll be missing everything now that I’m back at work” phase, and you truly hit home with this one.

    Granny June 30, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    No comment box on your Canada Day post?

    Happy Canada Day to one and all.

    Her Grace June 30, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Oh, I know. It goes so fast. Enjoy your little cutie.

    mo-wo July 1, 2007 at 1:11 am

    I smile widely.

    I love this post as a stranger. But after seeing you two I love it more.

    Remember when I asked. How old is she again? I looked at her growth and her waning babyness as she stood between my girl and my baby, each one year either side of her.. And, she daunted me. Making me miss those days for E. and disdain them for A.

    Though it might sound banal. Enjoy these days they are some of the best. It will be a wonderful summer.

    Anonymous July 1, 2007 at 11:02 am

    that is one cute kid

    Manic Mom July 1, 2007 at 12:48 pm


    Mert July 1, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Beautiful post… i wonder the very same things :)

    creative-type dad July 1, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    I wish it would slow down too…

    It’s just sad.

    Neonalune July 2, 2007 at 7:53 am

    yep…almost everyday one of us has to mention how we miss our daughter being a “baby” even though technically she has 3 more weeks before she’s a toddler. And it’s weird to think about how when she was first born that I couldn’t wait to see what she was going to be ike as a toddler! This is why no one can ever really explain what being a parent is really like…it’s not enough to say your heart is going to be ripped out of your chest everyday for the simple fact “she looks older today”.

    Lydia July 2, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Beautiful. So true.

    My baby boy struggles now against the hugs and kisses his loving mommy wants to bestow. He is too big, too wild, too free to be contained in my arms.

    Unless… unless… sometimes I can hold him, stroke him, cuddle him. And for that moment, he’s still my baby.

    Lainey-Paney July 3, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Yeah…somewhere along the way, my baby turned into a little boy. What happened to all of the time?

    Nancy July 4, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Happy Belated Birthday to WonderBaby. Must we now start calling her WonderGirl?

    It’s a strange thing, seeing our girls grow. Mimi’s starting kindergarten in a few short weeks and my mind cannot comprehend this.

    tallulah July 10, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Child #5 and I am feeling as you do. Slow down. Wait.
    Every birthday I mourn and celebrate another year for each of my children. Little people growing up so fast.

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