February 19, 2011

The Big 0-3

My daughter just turned 3 last week. For some reason, I've been feeling sentimental and have been looking back at pictures of her from when she was born, and her first few months. Then at 6, 9 months, her first birthday, second birthday, that time she got chocolate ice cream all over herself...

My baby.

Though I know she is the same girl throughout, it's so hard to reconcile that newborn and my bright, brilliant, funny, warm-hearted girl with SO much personality. I was there, I know it's her. I remember all the transitions, all the developments.

But, it's almost, in my head, like these past few years have been lumped into a few major phases and as each passed through, my baby girl was traded in for a new model, which walked and talked, talked more in later versions, was increasingly cognitively advanced and dexterous. It's Just. Too. Hard. ...to believe that they are all the same person.

My memories of each of those big lumps of my girl's time thus far in this world are tangible. So much that I can relive the feelings I had, things I saw, smelled, sensed during those phases. How did she slip from one to the next without fanfare? I look at her one day and realize she has completely morphed.

I don't bemoan the loss of her younger self (though am certain I will one day soon) as I am enjoying her now so much, more so every day as she gets more and more communicative and aware of her world. But I will say that the raging, untouchable passion I felt for her at 18 months, even 2 years old, and before... It's ... Well, it's hard to explain. It's different.

I'm scared because it feels somehow diluted, though my love for her continues to grow every day. I *think* what has happened involves the introduction of a new child 9 months ago, like my passion and attention had to subdivide and the urgency of a newborn had to be addressed and quelled first. When I no longer could focus solely on my daughter, and be completely consumed by her, my infatuation seemed to take a back burner.

Don't get me wrong, my love has remained steadfast and is ever more fierce. But that wonder and amazement had to be dimmed somewhat. I don't know why. I feel guilty, and maybe ashamed. But I don't understand why. I am feeling those flutterings of pride and rapture start to return, but I think I needed to both adjust to having #2, and to this new phase of my daughter.... The one where she says "Cool!" and shuts the door at ballet class so I can't watch, and who is strongly independent and fiercely resolute when she makes up her mind. Not in a bad way... She just knows what she wants and politely accepts nothing less.

In short, she knows enough about the world that I am no longer her everything (and I mean my husband and I). She can challenge us with her behavior occasionally, and she gets this look where we know we're beyond reasoning and the M-O-O-D will be around for a few hours. We are lucky, though, as she is a great kid, polite and respectful of others, but she will challenge us just like any three-year-old.

I feel her slipping through my fingers. We are close as a family and physically affectionate. She loves us and we love her. But I see shades of the future and she's just going to keep going down her own path of growth, i am sure, and that will increasingly be including less of us and more of her peers. We have a few years to go yet, but I see it already.

My little one, how I wish I could wrap you up like a baby bonsai and just preserve you at this age, where you will cuddle me on demand and say funny things like "Mommy, are you fat?" or "Mommy, Daddy is sleeping at a friend's house tonight!" (still need to discuss that one with him).

But then I would miss watching you grow and flourish. I wouldn't be able to answer the questions I have now, like how will you handle public school? Or, will you keep dancing or swimming or playing soccer or riding your bike?

I shouldn't muse. I should live in my existential presence, where every day is something new, and that is terribly fulfilling. I know I love my kids more than anything, hands down. Whether I did things right or felt the right way, no one could ever say, not even me. As long as I can course correct when needed and reinforce when needed, that should be enough, right?

While Version 2.0 steamrolls through his infant days (and I mean that literally - he's become an animal!), my daughter is on her own course correction and is preparing a metamorphosis once again. Maybe this time I will recognize it for what it is and be less surprised when I suddenly realize I've got the new version, complete with updates, and will spend more time just engaging and less time musing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Anonymous said...

I can't say for sure, but I don't think it necessarily has to do w/ v2.0... I have had this feeling about E every now and again (especially when she morphed from crawling to walking), and it makes me feel so uncomfortable and anxious. Have I been present enough? Have I recorded enough of her little successes so that I can remember them in the coming months/years when I'm no longer her #1 and enjoy them again? Knowing that we're not having a #2, I fear I'm going to miss something and never be able to enjoy it.

I appreciate knowing that at least one other mom has that same 'slipping through my fingers' feeling. What is worse, is that I'm terrified that my response to this feeling will be to hold on more tightly and she'll push me away.

I think that motherhood has made me more fragile than I ever could have imagined. She has no idea the power she has. I'm so in love.

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