My youngest daughter completes her 8th year this December. To me, she’s already 9, which is mysterious to me because just 6 months ago, she was only 5 years old.
This particular phenomenon is all my doing. The children don’t see this in themselves, they don’t intend to demonstrate these ages at all, but as the wistful parent who’s watching the last of her children’s childhoods .. it’s all I can do to see them 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 all at once. Or 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, and 14. Or 21, 20, 19 and 18. Or 10, 9, 8, and 7. Or 13, 12 and 11. That would be my second daughter. She has always been 11 since she was 2, graceful and mature and independent since she knew she could run.
Beatrice, my youngest, aged quickly from 5 to 9 because 9 has always been my favorite year for the children, because 9 was my own favorite year. I have very few memories. What memories I do have depend on photographs of 1.) me nestling next to my mother when she was about 47 (… I’ve silenced myself for a second there.. Just this moment I realized this. Mom was just a few years older than I am now..) and of 2.) me before I go on my first trip, by myself to a big city.
Me, standing with medium-length hair parted on the right with a bow. Me, semi-toothless and joyful. Me, still clueless in childish wonder. This was the year before I woke up. Before I knew. Before I saw. Before I felt. Before I understood. Before I knelt. Before I cried.
Sometime several weeks ago, the age kicked in for my youngest. Which is unusual for my thinking. Usually, their little years will extend into their older years, and not the other way around. My soul must sense this last year, wanting to relish this last year early.
With every 9 that my children celebrate, I find myself cherishing the last of their childhood, but contemplating the strength of my will to sustain the joy, peace and innocence of their lives. Just by loving well, I think.
That’ll do it.