On a rainy day last week, Ella and I were cuddling in bed after her nap and she was playing with my hands. Her dimpled, tiny, six-month-old hands against my almost 30-year-old hands. It got me thinking about the passage of time and the enormous growth that takes place over a decade.
In our first ten years we go from a tiny helpless babe to a freethinking, active, wiry, curious, fifth grader. We learn to smile. We learn to speak and to read, we learn the names for all things. We learn how to order off a menu, how to throw a ball, how to apologize. We learn about friendship and family. We learn about home and about the world. We learn to play and to laugh, to negotiate, to bake cookies, and to use our imaginations.
Over the next decade we gain independence, make a lot of mistakes, enter middle school, grow boobs, learn to navigate social situations, feel insecure, enter high school, experiment with mind altering substances, discover music, think we know everything, learn to drive, feel deeply, don’t appreciate our parents enough, enter college, go off into the world, say goodbye. First jobs, first loves, first apartments. We make questionable fashion choices and keep questionable company. We pay taxes, gain political awareness, vote. We experience enough angste to last a lifetime.
But this last one feels the most profound. I traveled the world, lived on my own for the first time, earned a living, made a life, found my calling, found myself, married by best friend, and with him, created a home. My heart ached for a baby—our baby—and then I got pregnant, grew her inside of me, birthed her into this world, fed her with my body, sacrificed sleep, found reserves of strength, patience, and love I didn’t know I had. I dreamed, I wrote, I contributed meaning to the lives of others. I was a friend, a sister, a daughter, a grand-daughter, a teammate, a colleague, a student, a photographer, a wife, a mother.
And now I get to help guide our daughter through her first thirty years. I feel so lucky for this life, for all I have been given, and all I have worked for. I am undoubtedly the happiest I have ever been and I look forward to the next decade of mothering, of house projects, of camping trips, and school plays. Of taking photos, loving our kitties, growing food, and cooking for my family. Swimming in the river and reading on the beach, toes in the sand. I know there will be incredible losses, but I will try not to mourn them prematurely. I believe this planet faces enormous challenges and change in our lifetime, but I'm going to focus on the beauty around me. There is so much of it.