She is 16.5 months old. But in my mind, she was just born. The sleepless nights and endless feedings aren't yet a distant memory.
Each phase comes and goes so quickly. You laugh and marvel at her development, thinking back to when she did nothing but sleep and eat. And that funny motion she made with her arms is suddenly gone, never to be repeated again no matter how hard you try to get her to do it.
But there is a new phase. A new skill. Equally fascinating and funny. And with time you understand that before you know it, that will be gone only to be replaced with something else. Rinse and repeat. The cycle of child development is thrilling.
While the world may still see her as a baby, the time you spend with her brings to light just how much she has grown. When the vacuum cord knocks the cat food dish 4 feet to the left, your "baby" picks it up and carries it back to where it belongs. This didn't occur via a parental request. She took it upon herself to fix something that was out of place. And when you see this happen, a lump will form in your throat, your heart will drop into your stomach and you will come to terms with time moving faster than you can even imagine.
The back to school pictures plastered all over social media flash you forward. Will she ever been that kid? Yes. And sooner than you are prepared for.
My friend moved her oldest daughter into her college dorm last week. I sent her a text a few days later to check on her. Her response was heartbreaking:
I'm surprised by how depressed I feel. Really. You tell yourself you know she's going way ahead of time. Does it help? No. Not at all.
I can't relate to moving my child out of my house, away from my protective wings but I do commiserate with the feeling of complete sadness when one phase ends and another begins. Sadness joined together with joy because they are stretching their own wings, experiencing life on their own terms. My friend's daughter is conquering college and living on her own while my child has mastered stepping out of the front door and down to tiny steps without assistance. Independence in two forms.
I remain sentimental about motherhood. I imagine I always will. The picture on my desk at work is of a smiling 3 month old. Her hair is whispy and dark and patchy which is nothing like the blonde locks that fall down in front of her face every morning when I pick her out of her crib.
Didn't I take that picture yesterday? Isn't she still that small?
I can't imagine her getting older than she is today. I can't imagine her being anything different than she is now. Motherhood is cruel in that way.
We aren't ready but time marches on.
And it waits for no one.