As Long As I’m Living, My Baby You’ll Be

My baby daughter is a toddler. Yes, I still call her my baby and she still is a baby in many ways, but she’s also a toddler. Each day, she looks more and more like the older child she’s growing into.

(Note: I initially wrote this on the eve of her first birthday as a musing ramble in my notebook. Though it’s late, the sentiment still holds true and I wanted to share it.)

Like all parents before me, this came way too fast for my peace of mind. I feel like I can’t keep up, and if I think about it too long I feel like I’m not doing enough–that for her, the time is interminable so I need to fill it with more and maybe then make my experience of time more synchronous with hers…

Except I know that approach is self-defeating. It would only make her even more aware of the time stretching between things, while I’d be so caught up in the things and making them happen that I’d only be less present with her.

Time is relative, and being present is the only way I’ve found to slow it. And maybe that’s the real secret to it all. Children, by the sheer fact that so much is new and different and never before experienced, are more present to their worlds and their times than adults. It’s something we lose by necessity, but in our ever-busier, ever-filling lives, we need the ability to slow down, to find that mindfulness. It’s all too easy to forget how to slow. Some people find their calling–and their living–by re-teaching that childlike state.

If I weren’t a writer, would I have ever noticed or just joined the chorus of voices bitching about the acceleration of time? Or should I thank that constantly scared little girl? The one who always felt the world might fall apart and come unraveled if she did or said the wrong thing, or if she stopped looking, or if she dared to forget the smallest detail.

Can you tell I was the shy quiet type?

Today, my husband took our daughter in the morning to let me wake up at my own pace. I laid in bed longer than I needed, listening to the thump thump thump of her racing around with the usual morning zeal. I smiled to listen to her busy-ness as she danced and sang, as she tap-thwacked toys against each other and the chairs, as she slapped the cupboards and tested them against the child-proof locks that she’ll figure out long before her next birthday.

Even with all the luck in the world, I have precious little time to hear such blissfully happy sounds. I want to listen to them–her–forever. These sounds keep the ugliness of the world at bay with its hate and rape apologists and other unnatural catastrophes. These sounds brighten my world and give me hope.

So may we make this world brighter and safer and more equitable and just than it ever was for us. (But still teach her what to say and where to aim if anyone dares to call her a ‘brood mare.’)

Happy birthday, my love

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