This afternoon, my 10-year-old daughter studiously collected all the icicles that she could reach from the house’s eaves. She then began her winter project of icicle house-building. The icicles have been slim pickings this year, and not for lack of interest. She cajoled her older sister, who had just returned from running, to stretch up and grab a few more.
Returning from a walk, I stood on the road, listening to my daughters at the house, discussing the different colors of ice. This weather, so pure and cold, reminded me of those long walks I took in those last few weeks before my first daughter was born. Every afternoon, I’d bundle up – me and the unborn baby I carried – and walk in what I remember as an especially sunny and cold winter. More than anything, I was most curious to meet this baby, to see this tiny person’s face: my child!
Our relationship has long since grooved into the varied terrain of mother and daughter relationships, far deeper, far richer, far more full than I ever could have imagined, sprawling beyond any cliched confines.
I have one daughter emerging into young adulthood, the other enmeshed deeply in the middle of her childhood. In the end? Who knows? How will these girls look back upon these years? But I hope they remember the loveliness of these ephemeral ice creations.
I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.
–– Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane