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.
This is such a beautiful tribute to 9 🙂
Ten won’t wait, but ten is pretty awesome too. And eleven is wonderful. So is twelve…
Thanks, Windy. I look forward to adventures with her during all those ages you mentioned.
I loved being nine. We lived in Maryland and a woods was right across the street. We waded in the creek, caught turtles, avoided water moccasins. I was a tomboy and hung out with Sheldon and Wolfgang and went exploring. I did ballet but wasn’t very good. My favorite time was summer when I roller skated from morning til dusk. Baby Ruth candy bars were 5 cents. A true time of innocence. Thanks for writing about being nine on the way to ten and stirring up memories.
So grateful you shared your memories of nine. I loved getting a glimpse of your childhood. xo
She straddles childhood and adulthood like a tightrope- such a fragile place to be when the eyes of innocence open to the real world. I’m not sure if it’s harder on a mom or a daughter. I remember those days as a child, but raising sons is different from raising daughters so I only see these things through others eyes such as yours. This is beautifully written, Rudri.
Yes, hard on both of us, but I adore the ups and downs we witness together. It is something I relish and hope these memories give her something to lean on when she is older. Thanks for your insight, Susan. xo
You know what’s pretty amazing about her question is her total confusion about it. I suspect that at her age we and the women who came before us just sort of accepted that things were just that way without questioning. Well, at least I suspect that I did.
I am not certain I’d have picked up on this unevenness at her age. I think since we watched both championships within twenty-four hours, the difference became glaringly obvious to her. She also has a particular affinity toward Serena Williams so I think this fondness motivated her question.
Perhaps that little girl will always reappear – even through her adulthood.
The growth of my children is certainly one of my biggest joys and heartbreaks.
I certainly hope that little girl reappears in adulthood, even if it is couched in a “Momma, remember when. . . ”
Yes, joy and heartbreak is an apt description, Tamara.
Happy 9 1/2. She is beautiful and smart! Every age is beautiful. I wish her big smiles always!
Thanks, Ayala. I love that she is so inquisitive about the world around her.
Oh Rudri, this post, your words, are exquisite. My boy is hurtling toward 6, half way to ten, and the changes, oh they take my breath away.
You can tell your daughter that not all women take their husband’s last name though… in my case, my husband and I opted to adopt an entirely new last name. We both have four names, legally, which we did so that genealogical research would show what happened. I know we’re not the only ones who have done this… change is out there!
Ah I know the feeling all too well, my son is 8 and he’s not far behind the double digits and I look at him like a portrait with so many angles and strokes that while recognizable it alludes me. He’s this little person that is looking more like a man every day. It trips me out. Thankfully, he’s a boy and they don’t inquire much about the world around them as much as girls do. I’ve seen this pattern with friends of mine whom have girls versus boys. Boys are in their own world for quite some time while girls love to be inquisitive as to the things they see and hear. I’m enjoying my son’s innocence and keeping it in a tight bubble until it is forced to burst because as of now, I’m not ready. Hope your daughter had a fabulous half birthday and is enjoying her summer! Have a great weekend Rudri, talk soon -Iva