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Needing to Know

I was once a person that needed to know what happened next. You're thinking that everyone needs that, but they don’t. Most people want to know. They would like to know. It was a need for me.
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.

It's hip to be a Square. I just migrated to the Squarespace platform. Other than the blog looking better in your browser, this doesn't mean much to you. You will notice, however, that the reply feature is not available yet. Please check back sporadically for replies to your comments until I get that figured out.

Reader Comments (12)

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April 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie

Thanks @Schmutzie - you rock.

April 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterFaiqa Khan

You may soon come upon a day where she begins asking you what comes next. My son is always ready for the next thing, almost to the point he can't focus on NOW. Me? I'll take what I have and just let life surprise me.

But I miss that little boy whose picture smiles at me, all baby teeth and big blue eyes, from the top of my desk.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

I hoped you looked really close at my smile the last time you saw me because I lost my front teeth too. It happened in a terrible skee ball brawl but whatever. I'm growing up.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVikki

The title of this struck me not because anyone here has lost teeth recently, but because I am really struggling with not knowing what comes next for us. It's terrifying and all consuming right now.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBritt

Beautiful post. Thanks for the reminder to spend more time focusing on the "now." I needed that today. Big time.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

I try not to think about what's next too much and just go with the flow. Sometimes to my detriment. But most of the time I like it that way. This made me think of my oldest's baby teeth and picture them in my head. They are long gone but boy were they cute... :)

Lovely and true post.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElaine A.

And then they'll start planning things with their friends. It's another *moment.* Oh... they're planning things. When did they learn to do that?

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRW

Just today I was missing my little 2, 3, 4 year old Gilda.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Law

I always patted myself on the back for not being sentimental about my kids' passing phases. And now that they're old enough to get lost in the grocery store without me panicking, I miss who they were yesterday. True and lovely post.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

My son turned 21 today. How is that even possible? I remember how sad I was when he got his first tooth because I'd never (hopefully) see that toothless grin again. It goes so quickly. Now I'm going to curl up with a geritol and cardigan sweater and subscribe to AARP because damn.

April 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I'm one of those "need to know what comes next" people, too. I guess that's why I cling so tightly to goals. It frustrates me when I don't know what's ahead. This is why I also suck at choosing and making decisions.

I'm workin' on it.

I don't have kids (yet), so I can't really give great advice in that department, but I think you're a great mom. You will always be her best friend, whether she meets another woman who becomes her best friend or not. I still look to my mom for certain things, even though I've found a match to my soul with whom I can share almost anything. I actually have several people in my life whom I consider best friends. Each of them fulfills different needs, but my mom is definitely on that list.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

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