The agony lurking within the love of parenthood

ice creamFor ten minutes I watched you eat an ice cream cone yesterday. More like devoured…You ripped it apart and sucked the ice cream out of every nook with great concentration. You grew an ice cream beard, and didn’t care or didn’t notice, or both if that’s even possible. Your hair was messy; some fell in your eyes, some formed a little nest on the top of your head that the sun shone through. You dangled and kicked your feet as you ate, chocolate ooze dripping to the table, to your knees…

And it occurred to me then, that this girl I watched will someday own feet that stay on the floor; will fuss over her hair before she leaves the house, so that it never falls in her eyes unless she wants it there; will never get ice cream on her face that she doesn’t immediately remove; and when she eats it, the experience of the dessert will compete with the thoughts that occupy her mind so she is never lost in a treat like this; will wonder why I’m being quiet; will ask me “what?,” maybe with a little annoyance, maybe with a curious affection–or both if that’s even possible.

Moments come and go, and I’m accustomed to losing them. Memories disintegrate like old magazines in murky puddles, too, and that’s fine. Friends move. Jobs change. Rooms get rearranged. But nothing is harder to bear than the thought of losing the sight of your pants pulled up a little too high on your waist so you can do just the right cartwheel in public; your face and arms covered with dirt after a play date; the completely un-ironic, light-up flower basket and streamers that adorn your bike; your sparkle clothes; your circus tricks; your holding my hand while we walk home from school.

You will always be my little girl, but you will only be this little girl for another ten minutes. Make that nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Fifty-eight, fifty-seven…

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