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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    BOSSY June 28, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    If you find out where to purchase the Brakes to slow this whole ride down, would you mind telling Bossy?

    Jennifer Playgroupie June 28, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    The extraordinary speed at which they grow and develop is astonishing.

    I want off the ride sometimes, as it is much too fast for my taste.

    Maybe I should try enjoying it more…

    Beautiful post, Catherine.

    pkzcass June 28, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    The ride will only go faster HBM, so hold on tight.

    She will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be your baby.

    m June 28, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    It’s those moments when we cuddle, smell their sweet scalps, nose tickled by curling whisps of hair, those are the paused moments of parenthood. They are brief and become less and less frequent, but that is why we cherish them so much.

    She is growing fast and beautiful and strong. She will make you so very proud.

    Oh, The Joys June 28, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    This is such a lovely post.


    On mornings like this one, when The Mayor was a complete and total *ss (I’m with you on the * issue presented at the Shake Shake home base today) I wish it would speed the h*ll up.

    Two Shews June 28, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    I am so, so, so there with you. Ask Wonderbaby to accidentally whack you in the face with something. It always works to clear my misty eyes.

    sam June 28, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I totally love this post! I have been having very similar feelings/and difficulty with Carter growing up as of late. It seems the more independent they become, the harder it is to cope.

    I’m going to be a huge ball of mess in like 7 years when he wants nothing to do with me.

    Megan (Velveteen Mind) June 28, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    There’s nothing left to say. Except I love this post, too.

    I wrote once about my mother freaking out on me just before I left for college, yelling as she pointed at a picture of a young me, “I will never have that little girl back. She’s gone!” I was bewildered, at best. I swear, she was trying to force time to reverse by the sheer ferocity of her voice.

    Love the WonderBaby.

    something blue June 28, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Yet another thing that is shocking, mysterious and scary about parenting. How do they do it? It’s like magic.

    I miss that babyness but adore the toddler fun.

    Jezer June 28, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    That is so painfully beautiful and true.

    kgirl June 28, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    yup, crying. beautiful post.

    Lawyer Mama June 28, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Ah, damnit, Catherine. You’ve made me cry.

    I know how you feel. The contrast between baby and boy is so stark for me because I look at my Big H at 2 1/2 & Little H, only 15 months younger, and I see how fast it happens. How fast it will also happen to my Little H.

    The pictures for this post were just perfect.

    Phoenix June 28, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    I think this is how people end up with more than one kid.

    bubandpie June 28, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    That happened to Bub, too, that sudden transformation from baby to child – only I noticed it because it happened while I was in the hospital giving birth to the Pie. He was twenty months old – that’s when you notice it.

    Jenifer June 28, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    I remember thinking when I had Rosebud that Papoosie Girl was so big – such a big girl at 2 and a half. Now when I look back at the photos, I think oh my she was such a baby when Rosebud was born! It is a fluid path and one day you will look up and she will have changed again.

    And you heart will break again. Mine does.

    AbbysMomma June 28, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Right there with ya…know what’s really scary? When you look at your 4.5 year old baby (she’s my only—she’ll always be my baby) and realize that ALL traces of preschooler are gone and she looks like a little person in every possible way. Hugs to you. Grab on with both hands and hold it (her) while you can.

    Her Bad Mother June 28, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Yes, Bub – she’s just pushing 19 and half months old. I guess it’s the age. BIG SIGH.

    austrian dyspeptic who does not have a blog but will some time soon June 28, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    What a wistful post!

    I teach high school and, although I am childless, I appreciate your melancholy. It is both joy and a sense of sadness at the prospect of the next stage of their lives…it comes in wave after eddying wave.

    Last night I said good-bye to grade 12 graduates at our school. I remember them as 13 year olds who suddenly blossomed into 17 year olds on the cusp of university. I have enjoyed teaching them and getting to know them, to offer a sympathetic ear in a crisis and to just enjoy chatting with them. I wish them well, but I shall miss them.

    I know that this can’t compare with parenthood, but, at times, I feel as if I have had thousands of children during my sixteen years of teaching.

    Such are the joys.

    Dana J. Tuszke June 28, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    This is exactly how I feel about my little one. And he’s going to be three in September. I keep thinking it was yesterday that he was just a baby.

    It makes me try to remember what he looked like then.

    ewe are here June 28, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    MF looked so terribly grown up after we had Baby Boo. So terribly grown up

    And I’m already freaked out that my little Baby Boo (ok, not so little, he’s moose no 2) is already 16 weeks old tomorrow! It seems like just yesterday I brought him home!

    Julie Pippert June 28, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Oh you didn’t miss it…it DID happen overnight. I was suspicious this was true so I watched closely the second time and yep, overnight.

    WB does make a lovely little girl. Can you stand those legs when they get long? Oh the legs just kill me, little legs, tiny wrists.

    We have no more babies in our house now.

    I am surprisingly happy and suprisingly sad about that.

    Persistence says whing too. :)

    AndreAnna June 28, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    This was so wonderfully written.

    My daugher is almost 14-months-old and already her independence leaves me in the shadows, wishing she would need me a little more. “Do, do, do MAMA!” because she means “I do” when she grabs the spoon from my hand and paints pudding down her face. “Soos, soos” she cries, as she wholeheartedly tries to cram her little toes into her pink sandals.

    It won’t be long before she can get the spoon in her mouth without turning upside down, or put her own shoes on.

    So for now, I cling to every second, because as you reminded me, they are fleeting.

    My mom always says to me, when I’m in a fit of hysteria because I can
    t.take.one.more.second: “The days are long, but the years fly by.”

    How true.

    Tracey June 28, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    My “baby” is 8 now… EVERY minute of their lives is so freakin fast and slow simultaneously. It’s a mystery of time/space. I remember my mom trying to explain how she felt about us when my sister’s daughter was sick in the hospital: “You know that love that you feel for that tiny child in there? That’s what I feel for you, but add 28 years to it.” It keeps on growing!

    I was cuddling with all 3 of my kids in bed last night. For some reason, they all like being shirtless at bedtime. I was rubbing their backs, noticing the differences in skin tone and texture… from 1 yr to 5 yrs to 8 yrs…. And all too soon, 10 yr and 15 and 30… Always my babies.

    Damselfly June 28, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Yes, I am looking for a pause button….

    What a great little person you have, there!

    Not So Anonymous Michelle June 28, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    AWESOME POST, I was just experiencing the same sort of feelings after my daughter’s recent 2nd birthday. Last night though when she curled up with me and wanted mama…I remembered, she’ll always be my baby, even when the moments that she wants to run and play and be independent outnumber the cuddly ones more and more now.

    mrinz June 28, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Hehe, my baby is now 26, has headed off to the bright lights of Sydney Australia to work and is now planning to go to London.

    Our older three have all followed the same path but somehow it didn’t upset me quite so much. One comfort is that the homing instinct is strong and they all finally return.

    Hang on to those childhood moments, they are gone all too soon.

    Emily June 28, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Yes, it is sudden and heart rending. But for years to come there will still be moments when she is your baby. I promise.

    Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" June 28, 2007 at 4:41 pm


    I believe it is meant to be that we don’t notice the flight…otherwise we’d never let them leave the ground!!!

    That’s how strong this motherhood thing is.

    Tracysan June 28, 2007 at 4:48 pm


    Karen June 28, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    And then sometimes I look at pictures of my 8 year old when he was 5 and discover that he was a baby at 5 and I keep missing the day it happened, cause it keeps happening over and over again. When he was 5 I was so sure he was big, but I just caught a home movie of him and he was clearly a baby, but not a baby, just mine. As for my younger two, I can hardly breathe sometimes for the pace at which they grow and go.

    Beck June 28, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    ….. and that is the moment when I instantly become pregnant again EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
    Good thing The Baby is little.

    Dawn June 28, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Yes, my friend.

    And as they grow, so do we…and it is inconceivable to us that we are aging for we just started this life stuff…and hey, what do you mean you don’t want me to kiss you in front of the school?

    Sometimes I take out the few baby outfits of Emily’s that I kept and I smell them. And Baby Emily is still there. And then I dust off and go make big girl Emily dinner and help her negotiate life as a pre-teen.

    Thats why they are given to us as small beings. So we can transition with them.

    Queen Heather June 28, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Awesome post!

    Crunchy Carpets June 28, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Ah yes…my baby used to need me to follow her across the playground.

    Today she takes of running and is madly introducing herself to her new friends and playing.

    I am there for sand cakes and a drink of water..and the booboos too.


    LSM June 28, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Now that my oldest is 13, I think about how fast time has flown by all the time. She’s literally developed from child to teen over the last year, and I realize how soon she’ll be on her way to college. It seems like yesterday I was a new mom, and she was Wonder Baby’s age. Somehow, I’m even more amazed that my baby boy is 8. How did that happen?

    Mrs. Chicky June 28, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Lovely. And true. So heartbreakingly true.

    eastcoastelle June 28, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Ooh… you made me cry (in front of the in-laws no less).

    My own little girl is still at the clinging little monkey stage, but even now there are brief, very brief moments, where she already seems so independent. It seems to happen so fast. You definitely touched a nerve and my own fears with this post…

    MamaLee June 28, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Too fast.

    Candygirlflies June 28, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Oh, I’m with you, HBM, I’m with you… I’ve made all three of my girlies promise me faithfully that they will NEVER grow up, but with each day that passes, it becomes increasingly evident that it’s a promise they just won’t be able to keep…

    What will I do when there are no more little arms stretching out to me, needily wanting “UP”? In a fit of harried frustration the other day, I asked my Child Number Three WHY she wanted to be UP so often, when she is capable of walking by herself.

    Her answer? “Because it NICE.”

    Oh, it’s more than nice. It’s heaven. I have to keep reminding and reminding myself of that, because childhood slips out of our arms far, far too quickly…

    Fairly Odd Mother June 28, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    What is worse is how hard it is to remember some of the things they did when they were younger—their mannerisms, their way of speaking, their touch. That drives me crazy and makes me want to bottle up every single moment.

    flutter June 28, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Oh but what a ride, if even it be too quick. She is breathtaking.

    Gidge June 28, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    I hate it when they wake up Not Babies. Mine all did that one day when I was not looking, dammit.

    Pgoodness June 28, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    It is amazing how fast they grow. My almost-4 year old is SO BIG; I am hanging on to his little brother while I can – luckily he is my cuddly one, so maybe I can slow it down just a little bit…
    this post brought tears to my eyes and wishes to my heart.

    moosh in indy. June 28, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    *sigh* I hear you. Maybe this is why people have more than one.

    Corey June 28, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    So beautiful. I have tears in my eyes. Thank you.

    Mama Luxe June 28, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    What a beautiful post! I already feel like Baby Diva’s babyhood is slipping away and she is definitely still a baby. Blink and she’ll be grown, though.

    kittenpie June 29, 2007 at 12:22 am

    I remember noticing long ago that Pumpkinpie was turning from baby into toddler, and then more recently, just a few months back, that she no longer even looked like a toddler, but was taking on the proportions of a girl child, the same proportions she would have for a good several years, though in larger sizes. It’s so wonderful-sad…

    jchevais June 29, 2007 at 4:04 am

    I treasure every moment that I can pull a cuddle out of my rapidly aging kids.

    Laural Dawn June 29, 2007 at 8:29 am

    I feel this way too sometimes.
    I’m not sure many can relate to this, but sometimes I embrace that feeling of sadness that he is growing up – that huge expanse of love I feel – because when my son was that little baby, I struggled so much with my emotions, PPD, etc. I look back at those days, and how unhappy I was, and I am so grateful for how I feel now. Sometimes that feeling of my son growing up is just so overwhelming, but then I remember.
    Beautiful post. I feel that way so often.

    Diane June 29, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Beautiful, beautiful! You’ve expressed my own thoughts.

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