eleven

Katie at her birthday party this weekend

*

Oh my sweet girl.

When on earth did this happen?

I know They said it would, but it’s never real until you see it for yourself.

Because when you’re young, you don’t think about Time.

Time of day; time of the year; time of your life, sure.

But not Time.

Until one day when you look at your little girl and suddenly she’s not such a little girl anymore and you say But wait! Where did the Time go?

The days are long but the years are short, They said as they cooed over the tiny newborn in the carriage.

And you smiled and nodded politely, appreciating their earnestness, but knowing that their urgency was misplaced. Because you – you would be different. You would live in the present. You would hold on with everything you have – to every precious moment, every morsel of joy and every last sweet drop of laughter. You – you would never be Time’s fool.

And then you’ll sit with your dad on the porch watching your toddler – his granddaughter – run in the grass and you’ll hear him say as his voice breaks, Jessie that was you – five minutes ago, I swear, That was you. Hold on to this, kiddo. Hold on.

Daddy, you’ll laugh, I get it. I do.

But you won’t.

And then one day you’ll search your little girl’s face. You’ll look for your baby – your sweet, tiny baby whose entire body curled onto your chest and breathed her warm, delicious baby breath into your neck. The baby who changed you from the inside out – who made everything different in the instant that she settled into your arms and suddenly everything that wasn’t OK before was OK then. The one who taught you what love really was. The one who broke you open so that you could put yourself back together the way you were supposed to be. The tiny little person who looked up at you and made you want to be someone to look up to.

And Where? you will ask, by God where is my baby in that beautiful young lady’s face?

And when you really look, you’ll see her. Because that’s what Mamas do. You’ll see her when she’s twenty and when she’s thirty and when she’s sixty-two. You’ll see her because your baby will always be your baby.

But one day that baby will turn eleven.

And you’ll stand aside and watch her, completely awestruck by the incredible young woman who is now emerging where your baby and your toddler and your piggy-tailed little girl once stood.

And you’ll think, By God, they were right. The days were long but the years were short.

And none of us – not me, not you, not her – is immune to the tricks of Time.

And you’ll sit on her floor together and you’ll look at old pictures. And you’ll laugh.

And you’ll find one that stops you in your tracks.

And you will hear yourself saying to your baby girl who is no longer a baby –

My God, that was five minutes ago.

I swear it was just five minutes ago.

And you’ll hold on with everything you have.

Katie, 2003

Happy Birthday to my beautiful girl.

I am so proud to be your mama.

24 thoughts on “eleven

  1. Happy birthday to your wonderful young woman! May she continue to go from strength to strength, shining her beautiful light on all those she encounters.

    And I’m right there with you on the “I swear it was just five minutes ago thing”. My older one turned eleven just 3 weeks ago, and suddenly that tiny little baby with the matchstick fingers is all long limbs and braces and hair like a Beatle, refusing to let his mother capture this moment in time with her lens. (But it’s Purim, our Halloween, and I flat-out insisted on grabbing this moment in all it’s fake-tattoo-armed glory. Someday he’ll be glad to have it.)

  2. Don’t think that ever changes. My God, that was five minutes ago.

    I swear it was just five minutes ago.

    And you’ll hold on with everything you have.

    And I still do–to my two incredible granddaughters and you!

    Love you,
    Mom

  3. Happy Birthday Katie.

    “The one who broke you open so that you could put yourself back together the way you were supposed to be.”

    I’m keeping this line forever. That is some powerful stuff mama.

  4. Happy birthday beautiful girl!!
    Happy birthday to you to Jess. My BFF and I feel our children’s birthdays are our ” birth days” as well and always acknowledge that with each other. Our oldest son Nolan will be 12 in August and I swear we just had him. The past 12 years have gone by way faster than the first 3 we were together and married before becoming parents together .
    P.S. I never realized just how much your girls look alike LOL

  5. This Darius Rucker song says it so well…..

    It won’t be like this for long
    One day soon that little girl is gonna be
    All grown up and gone
    Yeah, this phase is gonna fly by
    So, he’s tryin’ to hold on

    ‘Cause it won’t be like this for long

    It won’t be like this for long

    Enjoy all the moments before the clock strikes 5 minutes!

  6. Excuse me, I have a little bit of dust in my eye…ok a lot of dust…
    This was beautiful. Someday you’ll be sitting on that porch with her watching your grandchild and you can hand her this post. And she’ll get it. She’s her mother’s daughter through and through.
    Happy birthday Katie from the many of us who love you for who you are and for what you will be.

  7. ahhhh, I promised I wouldn’t. . . but. . . another great post.

    One thing I think my wife I did RIGHT. . . we recognized almost immediately how fast it was going; recognized “they” were right. Any time I caught myself wishing for the future. . . “can’t wait til she can talk, can’t wait til she can go to the potty by herself, can’t wait til she can help make her lunches. . . ” I stopped and settled back into myself and just treasured the “now”.

  8. Oof. This one got me right between the eyes; must have…they’re leaking a lot right now. Wishing you both a very joyful celebration of the milestone and the memories. Including those yet to come. xo

  9. Oh, my allergies are acting up…tears are rolling down my cheeks…in the blink of an eye…so, so true.

    Happy Birthday to Katie….she is a beautiful young lady…

  10. I’m new to your blog, but I just wanted to say, what a beautiful tribute to your daughter. Wonderfully written. Happy Birthday Katie!

  11. Happy Birthday Katie. My God Jess, you made me cry first thing in he morning. Having 2 girls also, I know this. I can’t believe my Cymbie is 4. I can;t believe my Ainsley is 5 months. Eleven?? I can’t even process eleven right now. Beautiful writing, as always Jess. Thank you.

  12. 11?! Holy moly. She’s almost a teenager… hold on tight! I don’t know what it’s like to have kids, but I do remember vividly being a teenager… May Katie give you less of a wild ride than I gave my poor parents. 😉

  13. Congratulations Jess on your beautiful daughter’s birthday. You are an AWESOME mom, and I am sure your girls thank God everyday for the mother and father they have. Although as you say days are long and years are short, I hope you hold on to the fact that you raised your girls will all of the love, pride, joy that you hold true. As each year passes, and you are remembering your precious little baby that once cuddled in your arms I hope you find comfort in the fact that they are growing into beautiful amazing women who will continue to amaze you everyday with their love, perserverience, and wisdom that you have passed on to them!!

    Much love from my family to yours!!

  14. she’s eleventeen! (obviously more teen than pre-teen, what with her intelligence and maturity). very, very exciting. hope she has a great year ahead of her (filled with all sorts of fun and weird apps).

  15. Tears bawling because my jay turns 11 on Thursday and as I walked by the hall pass the pictures I pass every day a gazillion times I stopped just this morning and looked at his baby picture and I too said, “My god that was 5 minutes ago!I swear it was 5 minutes ago!” Thank you for putting my feelings into words. For getting it, for well… for being you!

  16. This post pierced my heart and made me smile in the most bittersweet way. MY Kate just turned 10 and to commemorate we looked through old photos and marvelled at how time has changed us all (and yet not). I will always remember my Grandpa, on his death bed, saying to me “it’s like I was just young yesterday. It goes so fast, my dear, so fast”. Sigh…..

  17. Sobbing and loving this post. So eloquently captures our view as parents/grandparents. Served as a good reminder, that despite all the craziness our kids can bring…to appreciate ALL the times as they fly by so fast…

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