I love watching my daughter with her two young children.

I find that I have to blink a lot when I’m with her now; something seems to happen to me every time I watch the mommy she has become. My vision becomes blurry and suddenly, in front of me, she’s my little girl again. Memories seem to float around us, finding their way to me when I least expect it. I try to stay in the moment, but I find myself being pulled back in time, to a time when I was her and she was the one sitting in the booster seat across from me.

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All those years ago I didn’t really understand that she would ever stop being the small child who followed me everywhere, asking so many questions and giving so much of her love to me. Back then, even as I watched her putting diapers on her dolls because she insisted I buy a box of Pampers for her babies to wear, I never really thought about how she would grow up and become a mommy one day. Every time she asked me to sit at her little red Mickey Mouse table for a tea party, I certainly never realized I’d sit at a real table in her house one day.

I never understood that I would have a new role in her life.

I was too consumed with being her mommy to see her as anything other than the little girl who crawled into my lap every day to listen to me read yet another story to her. Did it ever occur to me that one day she would have stories of her own to tell?

I wonder if any of us are aware of what’s really happening as our children grow a little older every year.

We watch them as they reach milestones, cheering them on with every new achievement and comforting them through each disappointment, but never with the end in mind. There’s too much happening every day, causing the years to flow into each other without us realizing what’s actually going on.

We simply aren’t aware of the way time is moving around us until everything slows down.

Until one day, we blink and see that our child has truly grown up without us having a clue as to how or when it happened.

I think it’s a blessing that the empty nest happens gradually for us. There’s so much to look forward to as our babies grow into small children and finally become young adults. Our days are so busy we don’t really have time to think about time at all. I think it’s a good thing that college kids tend to come home a lot because we parents need to adjust before life gives our children a new home, making the one they grew up in with us simply a place they choose to visit from time to time.

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As I watch my daughter in her new role, the role I myself was given decades ago when she was first born, I can’t help but shift my eyes to her two children and wonder. As she goes through her days doing all the things young mommas do, all the things I spent such a huge part of my own life doing, does she ever look at them and remember when she was the child? Does she ever look in the mirror and see me staring back at her? Does she ever pinch herself, asking how she grew up and became the mommy?

I wonder if she’s inherited the same vision problem I have.

Sandy Brannan

Sandy Brannan, author of Becoming Invisible, So Much Stays Hidden, Masquerade, and Frozen in Time, is a high school English teacher. Creating memories with her grandchildren is her idea of a perfect day. You can follow Sandy and read more of her writing at https://sandybrannan.comhttp://facebook.com/sandybrannanauthor  http://instagram.com/sandybrannanauthor  and  amazon.com/author/sandybrannan .