When my kids were little, it seemed time was measured in milestones. The first word, the first step, the first poo in the potty, the first day of school. As they get older, these milestones fade and time is measured more on a survival basis. It’s like walking in the woods, really. You never know what you may come across, a dainty doe or a ferocious bear. The path is also unpredictable, either smooth and uneventful, or rocky and turbulent. It’s all really a crap shoot. Some days, they love me, others they loathe me. (Here’s a secret: the feeling is mutual, kiddos.) I can’t quite put into words how this shift feels. I’ve longed for it, but it also scares the hell out of me. Shifting from being needed all the time to having doors slammed in my face is not an easy one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m reveling in the small bursts of free time I get and I’m not really complaining, but it’s a weird stage of life.
Just the other day, my eldest daughter, came into my room complaining her Ugg boots no longer fit. (This is the end of the world for a tween, by the way.) After the hormonal volcanic eruption and it was safe to approach without getting burnt, we decided she could try on my Ugg boots. I secretly hoped they didn’t fit because I knew once they were on, they were gone. But, of course, they did. She walked out of my room an entirely different girl than she entered. She was thrilled.
I don’t know what it was, but the fast-moving truck of time collided with my heart and shook me. This was happening. Time has passed at a speed that scares me. I’ve watched a human being develop into this person that I never imagined. It makes every ounce of pain, hardship, and maddening moments worth it. She’s a million times better than I ever imagined her to be because, frankly, we don’t give ourselves enough credit in this parenting gig. She’s all my hard work handed to me on a silver platter. Sometimes that silver platter holds spicy bites that I don’t think I’ll survive, but 80% of the time, I’m treated to these savory moments where my mama taste buds melt away in pure delight. It’s a recipe of paradox.
As she sauntered away in my boots, she looked back at me, “Can you take me to the library?” I, of course, obliged and as we walked the brick walkway to the front doors, I knew this day would be offering me yet again a reminder of fleeting time. Rather than enter the Children’s Room, she headed right up the marble stairs to the Teen Center, a mile ahead of me. We no longer went to separate entrances, she was now entering the same library doors I was and it both made my heart soar and break in the same instance. Before making the left to the Teen Center, she turned to me, “Thanks for your boots, Mummy,” and walked away to the literary land of teenage angst and romance.
But, she still called me Mummy, even if she was wearing my boots and reading about french kissing, she called me Mummy.