My daughter is home. On a business trip.
I remember, one morning when she was about 3 months old, I put her into the car seat. Then I walked around behind the car, got in, put my hands on the wheel, turned round to check, and realized she’d been watching me the whole time. She had very round blue eyes, and they’d been following me while I walked, as though she had finally figured out what mother meant.
Then, at about 11 months, we put her in a small daycare two afternoons a week. I wasn’t working then, this was just for my general sanity. I had no house help or babysitting, and sanity was hard to come by. I arrived early for pickup one day, and found her at a low square table, with 6 other kids, all of them sitting on little low chairs. I’d never seen her in a group before, never seen her sit at a table. I realized for the first time that her identity included other belonging than that of her to me.
I don’t remember much of anything else in this vein until she learned how to drive. And then I saw her walking out the door, purse over shoulder, car keys in hand. Bye mom.
Now she sits at my kitchen counter in the evening, answering work emails. Another marker.
The significant moments, for me, haven’t been the days she started kindergarten, got a first haircut, or graduated from high school. You know, the times we are supposed to find important. My middle sister and I talked about this the other day. It’s because those times were always about our daughters, how were they feeling, how could we understand their reactions and support them. No room for significant emotion on the mother’s part. We take our time to notice that they are growing up only when the children are otherwise occupied, already engaged in the distancing activity.