My baby turns 7 this week, which means I’ve begun my yearly descent into weepiness and nostalgia that isn’t PMS-induced. It’s the birthday blues, and they’ve appeared like clockwork ever since her first birthday.
I actually thought I’d escaped tear-free this year, but no, I simply hadn’t been triggered yet. Yesterday my daughter and 11 friends celebrated by making journals out of cereal boxes at her recycled art–themed party. Her smile beamed as she listened to friends from her current school and last year’s school singing rousing renditions of both “Happy Birthday” and “Bon Anniversaire.”
Despite nearly two years of transition, my daughter’s life is full of laughter and friendship. My heart was full of mother’s pride and relief.
This morning came the sugar crash after all that sweetness. First, my daughter made a point of telling me not to look inside her new journal while she was at school. It was private! My daughter is no longer an open book, willing and eager to share every single thing with me.
Then, I read a fellow blogger’s post, The Light at the End of the Tunnel, in which Amy Byrnes writes about the past five years as she’s watched her children leave the nest one by one. She mentions how she sometimes wishes she could go back in time.
I’ve heard this sentiment often through the years, from parents long past the diapers and tantrums and hormonal mood swings in that sentimental spot where only the wistful memories remain. When my daughter was a toddler, her smiling face drew people to her. I was constantly told to “Enjoy the moment. It goes by so fast.”
Perhaps it is because I only have one child, and therefore, I have just one chance to do this parenthood thing, I’ve never needed those reminders. From the moment my daughter was born, I could feel the weight of my future nostalgia.
Reading Amy’s witty and touching tribute of the time when “It all seemed so endless. It seemed like I’d always have kids up my ass” got my tears flowing.
On my daughter’s birthday morning, I’ll be all smiles, of course. As she pointed out this morning, some things are private, and so I’ll tuck my tears into the deep spaces of my heart. But I’ll squeeze her so hard she’ll squeal, “Mommy, let go. You’re squishing me and I can’t breathe.”
And I’ll let go. I won’t want to, but I will—because no matter how hard I squeeze her, I can’t keep her small forever.