Do you ever come across a photo of your kid that grabs your breath a little? It’s not that the picture carries any real significant value or represents a hugely important day or event. I took it on a whim when she was getting out of the car between soccer and ballet practice. I’m not sure what compelled me to do it. Typically it’s a mad rush from point A to point B while catching up on her school day in between. I forgot about it until the next morning when I was lying in bed delaying routine and scrolling through photos. When I reached this particular one, I couldn’t stop staring.
Was it because there wasn’t an ounce of babyhood left in her face? Was it because the scene reminded me so much of my own childhood; visceral memories of peeling sticky tights over sweaty legs, the quick rush of jumping from one activity to another with a new group of friends and a different role to play?
Most days I don’t feel like my time spent mothering young children is going by too quickly. Most days I feel like I put in long hours, make the weekends count, and soak up every little ounce of their childhood. When I put her to bed at night, she doesn’t seem older to me. She’s the same baby I put pajamas on every night for the last 5 years. She’s the same baby I’ve made breakfast for and she’s still the same baby whose tears I wipe away when something doesn’t go to plan. Sure, I’ve noticed her jokes are getting more mature and her understanding of complex concepts often catch me by surprise…but she still has the same wet kisses, the same exact scent, and the same unruly curls that I remember from the first year of her life…
Maybe it was the way she looked into the camera. A hint of impending grade-schooler objection behind a trained 5 year old posed smile. Or maybe it was because we discovered her first loose tooth the night before. Whatever was or wasn’t there – maybe this picture took my breath away because it represented what I can’t see in the every day. When I wake up in the morning I never think to myself, oh no, she’s another day older. When I wake up in the morning I tie my hair back, throw on a robe, and wait for her footsteps on the stairs. I make a cup of coffee and turn around to see my same baby with the same unruly hair stretch up to plant the same wet kiss on my lips.
I guess maybe sometimes though we wake up 5 years later, glance through our camera phones, and get our breath taken away by the passing of time.
I guess we can’t stop them from growing up. I guess we can only be sure not to miss it.