I purposely delayed writing this post since it shifts my gaze toward the quick passage of time. Last week, my daughter turned nine and a half – a milestone before she turns double-digits in January. Her long limbs stretch over the sofa and when I try lift her into an embrace, my own arms give and I am unable to carry her. She laughs and says, “Momma, you can’t even carry me anymore.” Her words spark immediate tears. She is right. Lulling her to sleep as a baby exists only in my memory.

I knew these days would come, the days of her staring in the mirror, combing her bangs in the “right” way and asking for privacy while she tends to “her business.” She barrels into the kitchen and instead of watching me cook, she immediately asks if I need help and offers to cut tomatoes or watch the boiling milk for the paneer I am making. It surprises me. I blinked and she sprouted into a young little lady with opinions and thoughts and perceptions about the world around her.

Everyone warned me about how fast time ticks when parenting, but living these words feel far different than hearing them. With every increasing inch, her lengthy body catches up to mine and in a few years, I know her frame will tower over me like lighthouse in a vast ocean. Witnessing her growth pulses with comfort and uncertainty. She zooms around corners, sings in the shower and her imagination tends to work overtime as she tries to navigate her footing around the nuances of her world.

She’s still dancing to “Shake It Off,” but is asking questions which I find difficult to answer. Yesterday her conversations centered on the subject of inequalities between men and women as she pointed out the discrepancy of the prizes between Wimbledon champions, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, with the female taking a plate, while the male sporting a huge trophy. She asked why this was the case and I had no answer ready to satisfy her. Later in the day, she questioned why wives always take on their husband’s  last name and why it can’t be the other way around.

I sometimes forget her adult questions when she grabs her favorite purple blanket and cuddles with it at night. She straddles childhood and adulthood like a tightrope, grabbing my hand when she thinks she will fall, but realizing she possesses the knowledge to move forward to forge her own path. She looks back and asks for my advice when her feelings become bruised or when she fails to realize why the world is sometimes filled with a meanness she doesn’t understand.  Within seconds, she holds up her hand in defiance when she doesn’t want fold laundry or drink her milk and cowers behind me when an acquaintance starts asking her about her summer. When she can’t sleep at night, she reverts back to a little girl and asks if I will sleep next to her at night until she drifts into her slumber. I watch her as she falls asleep, cherishing the innocence and relishing her need for me.

With every “I love you, Momma” and bear hug, like magic, my little girl reappears. But I know these days are numbered.

Ten will not wait.