Today my youngest turns 10. Double digits. I’m just awestruck by that.
It’s trite to say, “Where does the time go?” but that’s the feeling I have.
She was born on a Black Friday. I went into labor 4 hours after a big Thanksgiving Day feast. Four days before her due date and 4 hours after I drank Raspberry tea, which they say can send you into labor if you’re nearly due. The contractions came fast and did much work. She would have popped out quickly in about 45 minutes if I hadn’t had an Epidural which slowed it all down and also made it enjoyable…unlike the birth of my first child….pure agony. But that Epidural made me loopy too. For instance, I wanted my husband to get a tv & video comb for $35. It was Black Friday and we were missing it. I probably mentioned it 15 times. I thought I had plenty of time, and it was a bargain too good to pass up. He wouldn’t budge. I remember a baseball game on the hospital tv, but that would be impossible. November 29 is a few weeks after baseball season. Strange, isn’t it?
When she was born she seemed huge to me. The doctor held her up so that her arms were out in front. Her tiny arms and fists looked ready to do damage. Though she looked like bruiser, she wasn’t that big, just 8 lbs and 1oz. Also unlike my boy, I could always understand her cries. Different cries meant different things; understandable things. Sounds I would make if I couldn’t talk yet, but still knew what I wanted. She was communicative and rational, strange as that sounds–not prone to emit any indiscriminate screams.
I think back and remember being ten years old so clearly. I remember what my dad bought me for my birthday. A hair comb with feathers on it. All maroon. Woven cord held the feathers and wrapped around the plastic comb. I liked learning about Native Americans a lot in those days and he said he thought it seemed Indian like that, with the little feathers. We had just moved into a new home. I found life hard and the growing friction between my parents suffocating. I remember my parents expecting a lot of me and often falling short. “You’re the oldest, you should know better,” was a common riff. I was a pessimist.
My daughter surprises me with her thoughtfulness and wisdom. I wasn’t really like her at ten. I didn’t have her empathy, forethought, or her raw intelligence. I didn’t have loads of friends calling for play dates on vacation days. I didn’t seek out the misfits and befriend them. I thought their weakness would rub off on me, and further poison my reputation. Ellie can see the big picture 8 times out of 10. I was in my 30s before I could do that with any consistency.
Childhood is fleeting. Infancy lasts (to me) about 6-9 months. Toddler stage until about 2 1/2 years old. Pre-school ages 3 and 4, and then at 5 they leave you for most of the day. They make friends you don’t know about, and experience things they never have enough time to tell you of. They move from being little children into typical children, and then so quickly to pre-adolensence. Something totally new and strange and complicated.
Soon adolescence will bear down on us fully (my son turns 13 in less than 4 months). Really, the first shots across the bow here powerfully here. The challenges heighten and the stakes feel higher. The stakes felt high when they were tiny too, but only because I felt anxious about being a parent and botching it up.
Now, I’m sure I’ll botch things up, but there are bigger threats than me out there for them. Their horizons are broadening. They have to make their own way as they rely on me less. It’s meant to be that way.
I’m not sure why life feels like I just got here and have to adjust all the time like a Rookie. I always feel like I’m making my way, at a new spot, and fumbling. Never really hitting a good stride for too long. I think if I die at an old age and in a fashion that’s slow where I can know it’s the end, I think I will be startled by the brevity of it all and the ever-strangeness of it. The foreignness. Like I never really got used to it. Like I never really fit into it quite right. Life still feels like a new pair of tight leather shoes.
Having a ten year old girl child is a lot to think about and I’m very pensive today.
Do you remember your 10th birthday?
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