Tender is the night

September 5, 2010

I walked back through the door after giving the dog it’s One Last Chance To Pee before going to bed.

Surprisingly, I found a sleepy Matilda on the couch mumbling, “Remember the things that carry across the water? What are they called?” I had been about to go to bed myself, but she hadn’t eaten well that day and her stomach hurt. so I got her some applesauce and pita chips and hummus. We sat on the couch together, eating in the dimness of the half-lit room.

After she had her fill, she asked me to walk with her back to her bed. Instead of helping her onto her feet lifted her up into my arms. She put her arms around my neck. I carried her to her room. As we got near to the bed I softly told her, with calm joy in my heart, “I can still carry you.”

Matilda is a few months beyond her 7th birthday. My older daughter is almost ten years old. She is a leggy, lanky girl, and recently when she wanted me to carry her somewhere, I realized she didn’t fit anymore, she was too long for me carry. I’d had to put her down.

Matilda murmured, and with the tender sadness parents feel while their children grow older, I said, “I can’t carry Tallulah anymore. But I can still carry you. You still fit.”

I tucked her in, and she returned to her dreams of crossing rivers. Leaving her room I felt thrilled that I would have maybe one more year left in my lifetime that I would have a child of mine in my arms so completely. The first child surprises a parent by suddenly doing something more adultlike than before. Every first time she shows a newly-acquired talent I am startled. I beam proudly. A second child, however, reminds a parent of the expiration dates of tender moments, and the fleet passing of time.

Tonight she reminded me that she will soon not fit in my arms. When that time comes, I will have been moved to another phase of parenting, putting behind the time I could hold my baby in my arms. There will be no more babies, and there must be a word in German to describe this, the sadness upon realization that you will soon never enjoy a particular tenderness again.

Each phase has opened, and sometimes, burned, my heart in its own way. What a strange thing it is, to love and care for someone and be wholly responsible for their sustenance, while teaching them how and when to leave you. Parenting is profoundly, sweetly melancholy sometimes.


One Response to “Tender is the night”

  1. pamela Says:

    oh, this is just so beautiful and makes me ache. because i know that i will feel that way too. i try to soak up every moment i can with my little girl. and will also with our next on the way.

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