In keeping with the grand tradition of separating life into two distinct phases more for the purposes of drama and less so for the need to extract wisdom from a given situation, forgive me when I say... and then I had kids.
Look, I just never know what to expect. Today, I think I have it all figured out and the next day she looks at me and smiles at me in a way that is completely different. Where there were once two, perfect, tiny baby teeth, there is now a gap that looks something like a doorway causing my extraordinarily articulate child to lisp in a way that makes me turn my head because I don’t want her to see me giggle at her.
I’m thrust into a reality that I never expected. I will never experience that "before" smile again. I wish I had looked harder, so hard that it would be burned in my memory to the extent that I would have no need to long for its return. Is it possible to remember the past so clearly that it sears the regret from your heart? I’d like some of that, please.
Photos aren’t enough, either. In fact, photos make it worse because they remind me of the fact that my brain is incapable of holding on to this beautiful, very important memory. Unexplainably, this speaks to the darkest part of my heart whose voice though terribly sporadic is nonetheless powerful as it reminds me that I don’t love her the way I should... that I might not be enough.
Her smile will be replaced by a new smile, and I have been undergoing a subconscious preparation for the new one over the course of the past several weeks. One year ago, I was greeted every day after school by a mess of long, brown hair, too thin arms, and legs blurring with speed as they ran towards me and jumped into my arms. Now, a little girl with a bob that’s much too fashionable for a child of six glances up as I walk up the sidewalk and half of the time I can see that she hopes that I don’t see her right away so she can keep playing with her friends.
One year ago, she would tell me I was her best friend, and I would gently explain that a mother and a best friend are a little bit different and that one day she would have a best friend that was not her mother and she’d realize that it was better that way... and I don’t know, I didn’t think that would happen so fast.
I wish I would have kept my mouth shut and just been her best friend like she wanted.
I used to be a person who needed to know what happened next until I realized that there’s no way of knowing. The things you know always fall away so they may be replaced by newer, stronger and hopefully more beautiful things. Then, you’ll close your eyes and feel the happiness that only hope can bring as the very need to survive the march of time transforms desperate needs into passing wishes.
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