I’ve written before that parenthood has contained more surprises than I can count. This is true. There’s no question that the most startling thing for me is how loss is contained in being a mother. I did not at all anticipate how bittersweet parenting would be. Every single day makes me cry. Every single day also makes me laugh, and smile, and ride waves of joy. The oscillation between these two poles – and their occasional co-existence in a single moment – takes my breath away on a regular basis.
Another of motherhood’s big surprises for me is the number of thing that happened all at once. There were many parts of childhood that I assumed would be gradual processes that were, instead, totally overnight events. For example:
Riding a bike.
All of these things I figured would happen slowly, with fits and starts, in spurts. Two steps forward, one step back style. Instead, in all of those cases, it was basically binary. One day Grace was rolling from one side of the kitchen to the other in her determination to get somewhere, the next she was standing wobbily next to the couch, holding on with two clutched fists, and the next she was off to the races. The same with biking. And with reading.
By the way, this works in reverse, too. Some things I thought would be instantaneous – notably, feeling like I was a mother, and, frankly feeling like I was an adult – were instead gradual.
Time is playing its fast-slow-instant-slow motion tricks on me right now, too. All at once I have a teenager.
Grace will be thirteen three weeks from today. It’s such a cliche, but man, it’s also the true-est true thing: how is this possible? She was a colicky newborn five seconds ago, and now she’s almost my height, wears bigger shoes than I do, and is turning into a young woman so fast my head is spinning. There’s nothing gradual about this moment. Even as I write that, I sense how ludicrous it is: after all I’ve hard thirteen years to prepare for having a thirteen year old. Yet it happened when I blinked. As Gretchen Rubin says, the days are long but the years are short. Another true-est of the true adage.
Do you know what I mean? Are some things that you thought would be slow in fact sudden, and vice versa?
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