“It’s just like circular knitting, Mom,” my daughter explained to me when I got teary the night before her thirteenth birthday.
She was at the height of her knitting phase—back when she was going to design and market an entire line of knitwear under the moniker “United Moose”—and she’d just learned how to use specially designed knitting needles connected by a translucent cord to create long, tubular styles. With circular knitting you can’t tell where one row ends and the next begins. “Tomorrow’s just another stitch,” she said, giving me a hug before heading up to bed.
My daughter turns seventeen tomorrow and although she was right--no single day brought a sudden change or clear distinction from one phase to the next--it’s clear now that all those stitches have nearly completed the part of the pattern we know as “childhood.” It seems that the design is beginning to shift into a new and unfamiliar arrangement.
Watching my daughter grow has been the most exciting, rewarding, and painful experience of my life. On one hand, I know the goal is for her to become an independent, vibrant woman, and but the journey has been so sweet I find that I'm in no hurry to reach that happy destination.
How many more times will she climb those 13 familiar steps to sleep under my roof? When was the last time she played with her brother in the clubhouse they built in the back yard? When did they stop taking bubble baths? Milestones happen every day, and in the busyness of life they too often pass unnoticed. I want to capture the moments, but end up chasing ghosts of things that were right here just a moment ago but have now vaporized.
How can I spend every day with my daughter and still miss her?
I miss the toddler who followed the happenings on Sesame Street like a day trader on Wall Street.
I miss the pipsqueak whose affection for goats earned her a stern reprimand from a vigilant keeper at a petting zoo…
….but I’m thankful that some things never change.
I miss the little girl who loved dress up clothes almost as much as puppies.
I miss the middle schooler who rescued the class parakeet from school bullies and brought her home to “love like a sister.”
I miss the year-round Halloween costumes, the piano recitals, the Easter dresses and the endless stacks of hand scrawled pictures. I couldn’t tell you what I miss the most, because I’ve thought of my daughter as pretty near perfect at every age she’s ever been (minus a bad patch at 14 that we’d all rather forget). And you know what? Tomorrow will be no exception. I can’t wait to share laughter, gifts and meals with this beautiful child who is becoming my grown-up friend.
Tomorrow may be just another stitch, but I know it represents the first one in the final row of a pattern that’s permanently imprinted on my heart.
All I can do is notice--and, in noticing, celebrate the moments of life as morph into an amazing new design.
Happy Birthday, Allison.