She is four, she leans back in the swing kicking her legs out and then pulling them back as fast as she can pump her muscles. The movement rocks her whole body until the swing begins to shakily fly through the air. The higher it moves, the better she gets it under control until she is gliding through time and space, her eyes narrowed against the rush of wind on her face. She continues climbing until her toes are pointed skyward at the apex of the swing’s curve; her hair flying behind her in soft golden tendrils.
I wonder if she will ever know how deeply I love her. I’m watching her from the corner of the window right now, carful to not let her see. As much as I want to run out there and make sure she is okay, I can’t. She needs to know that I trust her, she needs to learn how to play and explore on her own. After a few minutes she stops swinging and convinces the dog to play tag.
I’m still watching, and my heart is breaking a little. She is so happy, she is having so much fun, and one day this will pass. Time is a cruel mistress: unstoppable and relentless. Through my daughter’s antics in the backyard I can remember the past as vividly as if it were the here and now, and I can see the future as it unrolls before us.
She is my heart living outside my chest, my living time capsule, my world. I have to walk the careful line between being her friend and her mother, between guiding her on her way and setting down rules.
It is night now, and she’s sound asleep on her pillow, one hand wrapped around her stuffed Pete the Cat and the other arm thrown off across the bed. I run my hand along her cheek and brush the hair back from her sleeping face. She looks so peaceful, her face reminding me of when she was a baby. My arms ache to hold her like that again, to bundle her up and press her skin to me. I kiss her forehead and leave the room, and for a moment I swear I can feel the time slipping by: seconds, days, weeks, years.
An eternity of stolen moments, her body gliding back and forth through the air, her soft laughter, her eyes.