May 8, 2010
I remember the afternoon my daughter was born like it was yesterday. Except it was four decades ago. Still, I can see her tiny face and hear her cry out as the doctor placed her hot little self on my stomach. Her head was pointy, and she looked kind of blue.
We were scheduled to visit the maternity ward in the hospital that morning. Instead, let’s just say we stayed for longer than our allotted 30-minute tour. I had been to the doctor the day before, and he assured me I had at least two weeks to go. Boy was he ever wrong—so wrong, in fact, that I had to argue with his receptionist for ten minutes to convince her that I was truly in labor.
No one could believe how fast my daughter came, especially not the misguided doctor who sent word to my husband outside pacing the hallway that there was a ways to go yet and he should relax and get something to eat—which he did, nearly missing the big event.
I remember wishing I’d had those extra couple of weeks to prepare for a baby. But there wasn’t time. When we brought her home and I put her in her crib, I stood there, wondering how I would get through the next eighteen years. That seemed like an eternity.
It was more like the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, she was in her Winnie the Pooh dress with the white apron on her way to first grade. Then she was singing in the eighth-grade choir, where the girls towered over the boys. Then she was learning to drive on our stick-shift Toyota; amazingly she didn’t drop the transmission. Then she was working as a cashier at Kroger’s and acting so businesslike I hardly recognized her, going to college, getting married, beginning her career as a social worker, having her own child. Whew!
This past Thursday, we attended an art night at my grandson’s school. He’s finishing kindergarten and seems to have a talent for sculpting inventive clay dogs. The walls outside his classroom were decorated with pictures and stories, and he made a gift basket containing, among other things, the drawing of a pot that sprouted his hand prints as flowers. Across the pot was written the following poem:
Sometimes you get discouraged
because I am so small
And always leave my fingerprints
on furniture and walls.
But every day I'm growing.
I'll be grown up someday.
And all those tiny handprints
will surely fade away.
So here's a final handprint
just so you can recall
Exactly how my fingers looked
when I was very small.
Oh, my goodness. My grandson already knows how fast time goes! So where does that leave me? Standing far away, feeling like I’m reading my own life story through the wrong end of a telescope that stretches out for miles.