As I bathed the baby (will I always call her 'the baby?) this morning, and stared at her with all that mother awe, I became aware that I was living out one of those moments, those moments you really note. Those precious points in time where you are truly conscious that it's all slipping away, what seems an eternity is but really a vapor. And she beamed up at me that huge grin of hers, like so much light. And I can't help but grin back at this little tow-headed effulgence. I've never seen a smile so big. I realized, right then, that this, this is how I know her now, as a baby, a child of mine. It won't always be so. She will not be mine forever.
Things change and grow and children change and grow. Their shape shifting constantly, wriggling right out of our hands. Can we adapt as they alter? I'm sure we do, unaware, but too, at the end of the day, when they are fully grown and perhaps, we have become grandparents, will we still know this child? Or will this one be "The Baby". "The Baby" has four children of her own now. "The Baby" just earned her Masters. "The Baby" is a woman. A woman. My son will be a man. And when they visit, and I hope they do often, will I really know them? Will they still be mine?
My own mother and father, surely they love me. I know this. But I wonder, if they love me as who I am now. Or do they love the child they still see in me? Because that's all they were ever really able to see and know? I do not hold back from them. I invite them to know who I've become, but the all of me, the entirety of my adulthood, how could they ever fully grasp this? How could they understand totally that I am a woman who is loved by a man. A woman made so, by bearing children? A woman with lofty thoughts, desires, impulses so much distance between the now and the then. The little girl I was who didn't want her hair brushed, who climbed trees and played with porcelain dolls.
And maybe they can almost understand it. Maybe they can, more so than I know. I have not been yet, where they are. Maybe the cycle of life opens us up to insights I can't yet imagine.
But as I watched this writhing, wet and tiny barely two year old of mine, in all her watery glee, I came into awareness that this is not who she was. Her little baby self cannot fathom who she will someday be and nor can I.
It's bittersweet to love these beings with all you've got. Sensing that somehow someday everything will have changed. And it will happen in the mere blink of an eye.