Eye Blinks

“I think this to myself even though I love my daughter. She and I have shared the same body. There is a part of her mind that is a part of mine. But when she was born she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since. All her life, I have watched her as though from another shore.”

Amy Tan

I remember when she was small and strangers would say, “enjoy every minute because it will be gone in the blink of an eye.” I remember thinking that might be nice. It was awful, my headlong crash in to becoming her mom. I probably shouldn’t say it was awful, but it was and anything else would be a lie. Not one thing about becoming a mom was easy. Not her birth, not nursing, not getting her to sleep, not getting her to poop, not switching her to formula. Not one thing. But then again I don’t know where I had gotten the idea that having a baby was easy. There’s this whole weird cultural thing where we don’t talk about transitioning to parenthood. We all sort of skirt around it and leave each other to struggle. Some people don’t struggle I guess. But I did, and it was ugly. And so these strangers wanted me to enjoy all these moments and the moments where awful and ugly and sad.

Maybe what’s worse is that eight years later I finally know that those strangers were right. Here we are and she is eight and those horrible awful ugly sad moments are so far behind us and even though I remember vividly how hard it was and how fast I wanted to get through it I was not prepared for the eye blinks. Eye blinks and she is five and rides a bike with no training wheels, eye blinks and she is 7 and skiing blue runs down the mountain and riding the mother lift without me. Eye blinks and she is eight. Eight and looks at me and says that sharks don’t like to eat people because they’re too fatty and that there’s probably salt water under the surface of mars. Who teaches her this stuff? I think it’s supposed to be me but I can’t take credit for it.

In those eye blinks, something changed. New things are still hard, but instead of feeling like it’s dragging on forever I find that the days and months and years disappear in the blink of an eye. It’s dumb and cliche and frustratingly true. Those moments I wanted to escape turned in to moments I never want to end.

So here’s to eight! My ugly transition to mothering is in constant flux, I love her more than myself. She is funny and curious and independent and fierce. I only have so many eye blinks before she takes off.

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