My kids eat crackers at the dining room table, while I sit beside them squeezing in a few minutes of writing.
They are quiet, only the sound of crunching and of TuneIn Radio broadcasting from our summer beach location. Faux warmth on a 20 degree day.
My daughter says she’s thirsty, goes into the kitchen, and climbs up on the counter to get a glass from the cabinet. She climbs back down, turns on the tap, and fills it.
It’s incredible to think that she was born in this house—the one we’ve just returned to after a six-year absence.
The last time we lived here she was a baby. Soothed only through bouncing or breastfeeding, I dedicated myself to placating her. I was simultaneously desperate to find our new way of life and to return to my old one.
She sleeps in the room that was hers as a baby, but now she actually sleeps in it. All leggy and child-like and snuggled under her butterfly comforter for the night. Long, up-curled lashes on closed lids the only reminder of the baby she once was.
No longer is she jiggled to sleep on an exercise ball only to wake as soon as she’s put down. No longer does she require multiple nighttime feedings or a 3am diaper change or my body near hers.
No longer does she need me all. At least not physically.
Now she’s nearly too big to carry. Now she handles her own bathroom business and gets her own snacks. She strings beads to make a bracelet and a crown, reads Junie B. Jones, and writes letters to the friends she’s left behind. She helps her little brother pick out clothes and when she’s displeased snaps at him with the bite of a teenager. She loves him with ferocious intensity.
Through an inexplicable and unexpected time warp we’re back where we began. Here, in this dining room where she ate her first solid food.
She has grown so.
I have too.
Just as she was, I too was once a fledgling being new to the world, though you wouldn’t have known it. Thirty-years old and lost and worn down and waiting for someone to swoop in and do it all for me, take care of everything for me.
For years I went away—not just from this house—but consumed by the fire of motherhood. It took those years of motherhood for me to become a mom. To not question. To not regret. To not yearn.
Eventually, a different woman emerged, returned to this old house, settled, secure, integrated. Eager to uncover each day’s holdings.
My girl and I have grown up alongside each other. Lava-like we move, over and beside and within each other, draping, shaping.
Here we sit in this dining room. Grown—growing—together.