My oldest daughter, Molly, is 8 today. At 1:00 this morning, she was still awake. Yeah, we take full advantage of summer break around here–late nights watching movies, late mornings spent blissfully in bed. She was going through the kitchen on the way to the bathroom and it occurred to me it was officially her birthday. I called her to me, gave her a hug, and told her happy birthday. She looked at the clock and said, “It doesn’t feel like I’m 8.” Exactly, dear girl.
How can she be 8? She started kindergarten yesterday, last week she was a toddler, and a week before that she was the newborn daughter I never thought I’d have. How can this eye-rolling, hands-on-hips, Taylor Swift loving, increasingly boy-crazy woman-child be that same baby-breathed, finger clutching, **Tickles and Rubbings** lover I held in my arms just a short time ago? It’s impossible. Inconceivable. Insupportable. Inevitable.
**Tickles and Rubbings is alternating between finger tickles down the spine and rubbing the entire back. It was Molly’s daily request up until a couple of years ago. I miss it. Horribly.
They have to grow up and they insist on doing it as quickly as possible. The process is a chaotic and frustrating one. I get caught up in the melodrama, the fights, the mess, and the discipline of raising 5 kids. Some days I have trouble remembering why I kept any of them past the age of three. Then a birthday arrives and suddenly all I remember are the sweet times. The times when I was “mommy” and the center of their universe. When looking at them was looking at an honest to God miracle. I promise myself I’ll think of them like that when they’re being horrible to one another and I intend to keep that promise. Then they’re calling each other “idiot” and throwing freshly folded laundry on their floor and I forget. I forget the miracle. The blessing. The honor of being a mother.
So, I make the promise again today. I can keep it this time, right? Baby girl has just smashed a strawberry cereal bar into the carpet. Molly, dear girl, has just hit her brother and called him a moron. Deep breaths. They are a miracle. A blessing. A blessing. A blessing.