10 years old. Double digits. Whoa.
I remember standing in the upstairs hallway of the house I grew up in, contemplating my own 10th birthday. “A decade old,” I told myself. Sounded pretty momentous.
Now, the 10th birthday has played itself out once again, but instead of 1968, it’s 2017.
My memory slowly records what I’m watching across the hallway, through the narrow glass window of her classroom door, as she laughs, jumps around and plays a game with school friends.
She doesn’t know I see her from the classroom facing hers, where I’m substitute teaching that day. For this moment, no parent is watching over her, and she is on her own. She gets irritated when I stick my head in her classroom door when she’s involved in an activity like this.
This birthday, and these moments, foreshadow what is to come, the day when she is not across the hallway or even in the bedroom upstairs, away from her parents’ protective yet prying eyes.
Each day, I’m grateful for this miracle in my life.
Parenthood was meant for people who, you know, wanted to be parents. My own observations were that many people who become parents do it because they thought that’s what they were supposed to do.
Problem: This isn’t always a solid foundation for making the decision to pro-create. Navigating the roiling waters of child-rearing requires great sacrifices.
I was too wrapped up in having fun — being selfish.
I had work — a good job — money, cats, my own house and a case of enjoyable and engaging vices. It was easy to balance them all.
Can people change? Do people change?
I’d like to believe I’m not the same person I was back then — yet the essence of my being has remained intact.
Now my Miracle has turned 10 — 10 going on 15, as I like to sometimes say.
Yet one day a week ago, as I fumbled my way through a household handyman project, she reminded me again of that sweet young child. She still like to play with dolls, except now they’re the (expensive) American Girl variety.
She was working her way through her amassed wardrobe of American Girl clothes, spread out on a blanket in the middle of the dining room floor, coordinating outfits for four of them: Caroline, uh, what’s-her-name, um, that other one, and the last one.
Each got the beauty treatment in the American Girl Salon chair as part of preparation.
She steadily carried on a one-way conversation with the Girls, as she assembled outdoorsy outfits and planned to bring the Girls to her outdoor Camping-theme birthday party that weekend.
At the same time, she assembled (in the family room, of course), a full-blown Royal Marriage for her Play-something characters, with a few other stragglers on the guest list.
Again, memory slowly records what I’m hearing in the next room. The moments sink deeper and take root. I’m leaving plenty of room for the memories sure to come.
I’ll always cherish these moments, pull them out time and again and softly hold them with love. No matter how many birthdays and how many of the memories accumulate, I hope and wish — know? — this sweet young child will never grow out of her.