Firsts

Anna completed homework for school for the first time, just yesterday, writing her name over and over again in fluid d’Nealian script. It’s just the beginning, I thought, as I watched her grip her pencil, and who knows where it will lead? She says the word in a funny, two-syllable way, emphasis on the first: “Mom! I finished my home-work. My home-work!”

Then, also for the first time, she put together a 24-piece puzzle entirely by herself. She carefully found the four corners, then the straight-edged side pieces, then the middles.

Noting these firsts, one right after the other, I felt that mother-feeling. The feeling we live for, the we-are-one sensation (an illusion, I know, but let me have my moment), the feeling that we are parts of one whole, sharing one emotion, one moment, just us, undivided.

It had become too rare, and I worried.

I remember when the ‘firsts’ came so quickly that I could not keep up, scribbling them in a journal, then forgetting to scribble, then forgetting where I’d put the journal, finally giving the whole thing up. Then they slowed down, became less remarkable, sometime around her second birthday, when she began to spend long hours away from me, away from home, making new friends and learning so much.

We’re back, somehow, to a world of our own. All of those firsts never really went anywhere, I suppose, they just grew harder to spot, tinged with melancholy at the passage of time. She hasn’t ceased her explorations, certainly; she casts her net wide, loving recklessly and with abandon. She’s as engaged in school and friends and playdates and birthday parties as any five-year-old.

The difference, it seems, is with me. The difference is that my world is so aligned with hers: my work is her school and her teachers are my colleagues and my schedule is hers too and her friends are my friends’ children … it’s cozy. So cozy. So cozy it hurts sometimes, like a hug held just a moment too long. But mostly, it’s comfy.

I like it here. I like to remember, as I watch her flash across the playground, the moment we spent this morning, choosing purple socks or red ones. (I like that that even matters: purple socks or red.) I like sitting here, laptop glowing in the dark, thinking of all of the things I like about this life. I like the fumbly way she plays with the language, telling me she “goed” here and “goed” there and how much she loves “Sabannah” no matter how often she hears the name of our town pronounced correctly (all-too-soon, she’ll say it right, for the first time, and then this small chapter too will close). I like to listen as she tells of her day, that she played blocks with Olive and Victor spilled his milk and Tyler is a red square now instead of a green triangle. The surface of her narrative slides over and around me like a smooth current, words tumbling and flowing and playing in the light as she makes sense of her shiny new world.

That’s how the world seems to me, too, when I stop and look at it through her eyes: shiny and new, I mean. Every corner, every minute, bursting with first-times. When I think of it that way, it’s not so hard, watching the firsts slip away, for there are always more to come.

Always, always, more to come.

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Published in: on January 6, 2012 at 9:45 PM  Leave a Comment  
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