I know. My bittersweet sentiments are nothing new. I write about this every fall.
I get melancholy that another year is coming to a close, made more obvious by the changing angle of the sun, the dropping of the ambient air temperature, the formation of little ice crystals on the ground cover. Yes, also made obvious in a thousand shades of gold, orange and red splattered across the hillsides and in our own backyard.
I’ve written about my desire to slow it all down, questioning how life can seem to rush by, at ever dizzying speeds. I’ve railed against the onward march of all things.
And then I sit quietly in the moment and practice acceptance.
Acceptance of all things.
Acceptance of another year coming to a close. Yes, it’s only October. And yes, there are still a couple of months left in this year. But we are on the down side of 2016, spinning ever closer to 2017.
Acceptance that our summer was not the summer we thought it was going to be. Our summers are historically short, and when fires interfere and evacuations take place, the already truncated season is even more so. Followed by a stint in the tractor out in the hayfield (more on that to follow) and all of a sudden, bam! There was Labor Day Weekend. And full-blown fall at our house.
Acceptance of the fact that my little girl is growing up. I wrote about this summer when we both experienced her first overnight away from home. (That night nearly laid me flat. Luckily my mother answered the phone and helped me to remember to breathe.)
I’ve written about the various discussions we’ve had as she navigates this world–political, cultural, societal. All discussions that demonstrate her evolving mind, her intellectual growth, her march onward into becoming the beautiful body and soul that she is capable of being.
I am sitting at the library while she is downstairs for a program on “Owls and other nocturnal animals” put on by a Steamboat organization called My Book Trails. (www.mybooktrails.org) It’s a chance for her to meet other children her age and interact with them and the adults in charge. She would also tell you it’s a great day because she doesn’t have to do her math lessons.
Today, though, I am overcome by nostalgia. I have just watched a woman and a young girl–her daughter?–as they walk across the little foot bridge outside the library. The woman is pushing a stroller and the little girl is lagging behind. The woman stops the stroller and turns to the little girl, who runs into her arms, giggling. The woman picks her up and swings her high into the air, laughing herself. They hug. And I look away, trying not to cry.
I miss my baby. I miss the feeling of her smooth baby skin, the smell of her baby-ness. I miss the screeching when she knew it made me laugh so hard I was crying. Cause then she’d just keep going. I miss the first time she reached up to touch my face. I miss the feel of her in my arms, and over my shoulder. I never, ever wanted to forget the sounds and smells and feel of her as a baby. The memories are fading and I have to reach deeply to retrieve them.
I miss my little toddler. I miss the little girl in the Belle dress signing the sign for “milk” to me, clucking the “lk” sound at the end of the word. I miss the little girl telling me it’s Ba-rock O-bom-a on the television, with a little squeal at the end. I miss the answer of “Joe Bi-den” when asked who Barack Obama works with. I miss the 3 1/2-year-old who we took to Disneyland and who thought she was meeting the REAL Sleeping Beauty/Aurora. Who very carefully and gently placed her hand on the princess’s face to feel if she was real or not. I miss my 4-year-old as we hiked up to the Eagle Catch for the first time, me worried she’d fall down the steep side and wondering what on earth possessed me to take her up there. Her clambering to move faster. I miss my 6-year-old who exclaimed “MOM! Can we do that again????” after we landed after paragliding off of the top of the mountain in Jackson Hole. (No, we could not do that again…it broke the bank the one time.) I miss the 6-year-old who wore her Merida costume, complete with red wig and bow and arrows for 3 days at Disneyland, proudly playing the part. I miss the 7-year-old as she bravely vanquished Darth Vader with a light saber at the Jedi Training Academy the next year in Disneyland. I miss the little girl in the blue snowsuit falling backwards into the snow by the driveway, giggling. I miss the little girl, valiantly learning to stand up on her cross-country skis as we skied down the driveway. And the little girl in the black snowsuit in front of me as we sledded down the hill. Now she goes herself and insists on her own sled.
There is so much else I miss.
But this I know:
I love my 9 1/2-year-old daughter with a passion that brings tears to my eyes. I love her bright, inquisitive mind. I love her curiosity. I love her vocabulary that has me constantly on my toes. I love her stubbornness as we butt heads on a daily basis. I love her passion for things she believes in.
I would not trade the present for a day in the past. I would not give up today for anything. I would not change where we are now.
I just want more time.