A few days short of ten years ago, I met my daughter in our own little snow globe. We arrived as the first snowflakes began to fall during the blizzard of 2003 and left with two feet of snow piled on top of our car and a baby in a carrier. I still remember her tiny fleece leopard hat and her eyes that could barely stay open. My baby now has hands bigger than mine and, in a few short months, she’ll probably be taller than me too.
I love snow and have missed it terribly. For almost two years, Philadelphia has only seen a dusting. I’ve been up all night working and glancing out the window watching as the streets remain quiet and the white sparkles accumulate on everything: the porch, sidewalks and even my heart.
When I was pregnant, it never occurred to me to think about ten years later. Maybe I’m mistaken, but do any of us really think that far in advance? When my daughter was a baby, I would look at toddler clothes and think the store should have accessorized with a matching cane. I couldn’t fathom her being anywhere near a 2T let alone bras and periods, boys and — SEX.
I think there are two things parents fear: potty training and talking about sex. Obviously we fear things like doing a good job and paying for things, but on the scale of things we have anxiety about? Yeah, those are the top two.
For the most part, we all get through potty training, but I know I never had the sex talk. My mother handed me a book of cartoon people with pubes and I was both mesmerized and confused. Remember I was pregnant at 15, so we know how well that worked. I should sue: damn you 70′s crotch cartoons! Your gigantic bushes clouded the message: sex = babies.
On those first sleepless nights when I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I would sit in my new bedroom with my brand newer baby and rock her in the blue gliding chair. My feet would be up, the pink Boppy with its small roses on my lap and my baby would be nestled close. I would pop in a DVD from a box set to get ready for the long night ahead.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Now, she sleeps in her own room, goes to the bathroom by herself and puberty is on the horizon. Long gone are toddler outfits and binkies, bottles and Dora the Explorer. She’s ditched princesses for skateboards and Monster High; finger paints for ceramics. No longer does she pretend to call, she’ll text me from her iPod Touch. She can ride a bike, tie her own shoes and is learning fractions. Now she has report cards and I no longer pick her Halloween costumes. There’s a lengthy list of things she does by herself and the time is coming when the places we go together will no longer ask “Where’s your daughter?”
When she was born, we had Nokia phones with green back-lit screens and Slasher brought VHS tapes to the hospital for our extended four-day stay. When she was a toddler, we brought crayons to restaurants and the only app was the kind you ordered before dinner. When I was in college, Facebook was only for students and the Wiggles might as well have been the Beatles. Then came small steps of letting go: pre-school and kindergarten, sleepovers and phone calls.
So it makes sense that a decade later, the universe would celebrate with another blizzard for my girl. It’s beautiful and quiet and I had to stay up all night — just like I did then — savoring this moment.
For the next ten.