Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On the 8th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me: an 8 Year Old Dancing

"On the eighth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
an 8 year old dancing
7 hens a-laying,
6 cats a-sleeping,
5 More Minutes!
4 calm equines,
3 fuzzy dogs,
2 flightless birds,
and an old farm in the country."
WunderGuy and I were married for 14 years before we were blessed with a child. We actively tried to have children for 7 of those years, joking about all the money we'd wasted on birth control.

We found out we were expecting the same week we learned WunderGuy was losing his job due to outsourcing and downsizing (Corporate Speak for "You no longer work here."). Oh, joy.
C. at 2 1/2 years.

Ah, but our daughter IS a joy. She's a constant reminder that there is still wonder in the world. She enables me to hear old jokes, see old movies, and revisit old haunts with new appreciation.

She is opinionated and brilliant, graceful and coltish. She's got her father's gentle spirit, she's got my gift for gab, and she is definitely her own person.

Every day, she reminds me that she is not me. She is Herself. She doesn't necessarily like the same things I do, enjoy the same foods, or think Those pants go with That shirt. And every time she jolts me out of my comfortable rut where I have experienced the world for the past 4 decades, I am grateful anew.

I've reached the age of walking. I run only for emergencies. All normal activities -- mucking stalls, grocery shopping, going to get my hair cut, exercising the dog -- involve walking.

Not so, my daughter. She rarely walks anywhere. She skips, twirls, stomps, and clomps. She races and runs, dodges and darts. She literally dances through life.
C. at 3 1/2.

Though she was an easy pregnancy, hers was a fairly difficult birth. She was overdue so labor was induced. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, she aspirated fluid during birth, and upon coming into the world, her Apgar score plummeted. She was immediately put on a respirator and placed in something that looked like an alien aquarium. I couldn't hold her until nearly 13 hours after she was born. Thank Heaven for obstetrics and pediatric medicine.

I worried a bit that I might not have a maternal bone in my body. I wasn't someone who desperately craved a child. Though WunderGuy and I feared we might not be able to have one, we never took heroic measures to conceive. And I wasn't ever one of those women who gets all gooey over babies. Puppies and kittens, sure. Babies -- meh.

How my daughter has changed me. Now I, too, am one of "those" women who smile knowingly at pregnant ladies. It's a bittersweet smile: they are about to enter a phase of life that I lived through once, but will never experience again. When I was expecting, everyone told me "Enjoy it; it goes so quickly."

I remember thinking how stupid that advice was. I've been on this planet for over 30 years. I think I know how fast time moves.

C. at 4 1/2. She's twice that now...
I didn't have a clue. So many things have gone in the blink of an eye. I can't remember the last time I dressed her. Or the last time I bathed her. Or washed her hair. She does all those things on her own now. I wish I had some way of knowing when the "last" of something was happening. Perhaps I'd savor it more thoroughly before losing it forever.

Though I can't stop time (truth be told, I doubt I'd really want to), sometimes I'd like to take a page from Alan Lightman's wonderful Einstein's Dreams and freeze time to move more slowly at critical moments. I never knew, for instance, that the last time my daughter crawled to get someplace would be The Last Time She Crawled. One day, the crawling was no more; the dance had begun.

I am grateful for every day I get to hear her music and watch her move to the beat of her very own drum. She is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

3 comments:

David Brown said...

I fear time with my new daughter is going to fly by all too quickly, indeed. Thanks for this reminder.

Ami Hendrickson said...

David,
Ah, the time *flies* doesn't it? Even more sobering: it moves in one direction. Each moment comes only once. If squandered, it can never be recaptured. Enjoy every second with your child. Memories are *so* much more important to make than money. :)

Kathy (from Bliss Habits) said...

Thank you so much for this one Ami! You inspired this post on The Everyday Mommy blog, which I haven't otherwise updated in months! Yes, indeed. Time Flies!