Frankly, words fail me.

My daughter turned 12 this month. And I’ve been struck hard with the realization of how little time I have left with her. Six years until she goes to university. Which is tomorrow. Because yesterday she was six years old.

I was sitting having coffee the other day with a young mother whose three year old was hilarious in her attempts to derail our conversation and naturally bring it round to her. She first demanded food, then started chucking things out of the fridge, until she finally sauntered into the kitchen naked with a towel over her head.

Her mother slid back and forth between laughter and exasperation.

I said She will be your companion in a couple of years. This little girl who quacks for snacks. She will suddenly blossom over night into a being who not only mesmerizes and entrances you but who can offer advice and solace. Who will steal your best clothes and reflect back your parental mistakes and successes.

And you will be the one wondering how to get her attention.

You will see that far off look in her eye and know that she is floating on another plane.

You will see her turn from you to zero in on another’s conversation.

You will be the one to hold on just a little bit longer in your hugs.

It is an extraordinary feeling, and frankly words fail me.

And then, like my sister this past summer, you will possibly watch her walk away down the aisle with another. Or at the very least, you will wave from your doorstep as she steps out on her own into this vast, vast world.

I try to remind myself of this when I’m itching with irritation, Have you done your homework?? And wondering for the zillionth time, Where is my leather jacket??


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5 responses to “Frankly, words fail me.

  1. I vacillate between wanting to cling and wanting an empty nest. “Stay forever” versus “Fourteen years, nine months, and ten days until the nest is empty.”

    On those days, reading Someday (by Alison McGhee and Peter Reynolds) makes me cry even harder than it usually does.

  2. ninakillham

    I didn’t know about Someday, Sarah. It looks wonderful. I’ve ordered it I think I’m about to have a good cry!

  3. Lisa

    This is so true – I was just thinking this an hour ago while on line at the grocery store. My 14 year old daughter in front of me and a tiny little girl in a car seat behind us who was crying and fussing and was just so adorable – it felt like only a year ago that she was that age and it hit me in the chest like a brick….I’m so glad to know that someone else feels this way too.

  4. I’ve been pushing mine out into the world pretty much since she was born. This has guaranteed that she will never leave home. In my next life, I hope to remember this.

  5. ninakillham

    I know! I think in my next life I’m going to have to remember a lot of things…

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