In what was probably a terrible timing of events, I chose to watch the HBO Documentary, "The Kids Grow Up" just a few days before Elena celebrated her 9th birthday. In the film, the director chronicles his daughter's last year at home before leaving for college. Throughout the film he reverts to footage he's shot of her over the years.
You see his daughter in her pre-teen years, chatty and clearly enamored with the camera. Later you see her as a teen, and in her last few months at home, clearly not enamored with the attention. You see this family struggle with both the excitement of this rite of passage and the fear and sadness of it.
I am fully aware that we are in this golden moment of parenting, where Elena is still very much a little girl. We tell her where to go, what to do, when to go to bed. At the same time, she's dipping her toes in the water of independence that will one day enable her to leave us and live her own life. This summer we've started to let her ride her bike to and from swim practice by herself. Little by little, the cord of attachment unravels.
Watching a film like this in such close proximity to her birthday just reminds me that time will continue to be fleeting. She asked me tonight to name some of her favorite things to do when she was 2 and 3, and for the life of me I couldn't remember. There wasn't a blog yet, I didn't carry a camera around everywhere, and even though I only had one child, my scrapbooking skills were spotty at best. Enough time has passed that I do not know the toddler Elena like the back of my hand anymore. At the same time, it feels as if it were only a few breaths ago.
For now, she is the chatty, happy girl who is enamored with the camera lens pointed her way and the attention that comes from having her life shared by a mother who loves to write about her. I imagine we are coming close to a time when she will not feel this way – when not only will her life be too private for the internet, she'll choose to shield parts of it from us as well. I hope she can look back and appreciate the why? of all of this. I might not be able to remember so well Elena at 2, but thanks to blogging I will always remember Elena at 9.
I will remember that she couldn't wait to get to swim practice, and happily spent her birthday at a swim meet instead of celebrating with cake and presents.
I will remember that she loves a good burger (plain, no ketchup and DO NOT toast the bun).
I will remember that she loves guitar (but not so much the practicing), and can't wait until Girls Rock! Indy camp when she can try the bass and be in her very own band.
I will remember the books we were reading when she turned 9 (Huck Finn and Inkspell), and that she still loved having us read to her.
Happy birthday, Elena. I love you just as you are today, and I know I'll love the woman you'll grow up to be. Just do me a favor and take your sweet time getting there. I'm not quite ready to let you fly away yet.