In this heartfelt rendition of human growth and parental nostalgia, Jillan Carroll Glorfield takes us through the cathartic emotions that precede the birth, growth and maturity of our children. How fleeting it seems, and how it leaves a bitter-sweet gaping hole in our hearts. Jillan has a powerful way with words and you can’t help but feel the sentiment of each word and sentence. Here goes:
About 2 minutes ago my eldest child was born.
Okay, maybe it was 3.
But it doesn’t really matter, that exact number.
What matters is it just happened. It truly just happened.
A second after, my stepmother wisely said,
“The days can be long; the years are so very very short.”
I didn’t quite get it at the time.
But damn if she wasn’t right.
See, here’s the thing:
He’s off this morning,
A brand-new chapter has begun.
The core of the Americana teenage experience.
And I swear to you, only about 3 minutes have passed.
Or maybe four, since the moment he was born.
I feel almost silly writing this,
“Jesus Jilan—it’s only high school”;
I hear the self-critic in my mind.
Yet, I am one of those, you know, one of those that was born with their heart pretty much on the outside.
With their heart kind of a tiny bit broken from day one.
Not sure why.
And I don’t mind it. not one little bit.
It just is.
One of those big damn hearts that feels even the smallest thing in a big damn way.
So, today, even with that other voice saying,
“It’s merely the beginning of high school—get over yourself”,
It’s breakin’ my freakin’ heart wide open.
Right into two.
He truly was just born, that guy.
Truly, just three or maybe four minutes ago.
Tiny and cautious from the start.
Due on my birthday, arriving five days later,
The last day of Leo which I always liked somehow.
Eyes were like chocolate velvet, big and knowing.
His tiny body so, well, so very tiny.
He was born down the street from our first home.
And he and we moved cross country just 8 weeks later.
He learned to crawl at that little house in Santa Cruz;
And on his papa’s birthday he took his first steps.
He turned one and then two there, in that little house on Laurent Street.
Just up from the Food Bin, one of those iconic old health food stores.
And just down from UCSC, with all of its students booming up and down our street all day.
Then that Halloween we moved ‘up the hill’, as we now-locals like to call it, claiming this mountain town as ours.
We found our tribe—he learned to bike and swim, and read.
Still always making sure, watching, observing, with those velvet eyes of his.
Somehow it slid by.
Sometimes a trickle,
Sometimes lightning speed.
A sister came and then a brother.
First. Second. Third. Fourth. Fifth. Sixth. Seventh. Eighth.
All those grades.
Whammo. Just gone.
That boy who stayed on mama’s lap for many of his years somehow became big.
Towering over me.
A rock n roller.
All of it.
And there were always those velvet eyes.
Then the past sixty-seven days came and went.
Again, lightning speed.
I had dreamed of long late nights, quiet late mornings.
And we had them, we had almost every one of them together,
Me and this boy of mine.
Somehow, I had imagined it would be so slow.
It would at least be slower.
That we’d have enough time;
That I would be so completely ready for today.
Longing for my ‘own’ time.
To write more, to photograph more.
To get organized, to get my act back together after this long luscious break.
But then it was last night, the hours after the little two were sleeping.
It was the quiet “I’m nervous, mom”.
His music played that touched the essence of this moment.
Bon Iver. Regina Spektor.
The observation of this boy-almost-man who was born,
I swear to you, just three or four minutes ago, preparing to let go.
Preparing to move forward.
Preparing to take this on.
In his way.
In the way only he can do.
Hopping bravely into the car of a friend, barely looking back.
As ready as he could be.
Those velvet eyes.
Heart on sleeve.
Torn open slightly.
Finding it hard to believe that I, who has a photograph for every moment of his entire life, didn’t even snap a one of ’em.
And now, sliding through so many images from days gone by on this slow-motion film track in my mind, wondering where all those moments between then and now have gone.
The photographs. The time.
“Instant nostalgia” I recently heard.
No two words sum it better.
Blessings on you ljg, as we always say at our goodbyes.
Blessings on you…
All the day through.
All the year through.
All of high school through.
Blessings on you, ljg,
For all the rest of your days.
I know the boy who left this morning, I know him ever so well.
Maybe that is why I didn’t need to photograph the moment.
I look forward though, as the moments tick tock by today, to the young man who re-enters this afternoon.
Life as I know it.
For more beautiful and poetic reads from Jillan Carroll Glorfield, visit her blog, 11th and Lombard.
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POSTED IN: TALK · TAGGED: ESSAY, GROWING UP, MOM, PARENTING