I am officially infatuated with the person I am getting to know in Briar. Each day, like a magical bird, she molts, the beautiful feathers I have known and loved so dearly. They flutter delicately to the ground and in their place new, bold colored quills. I am fascinated and grateful by how mourning can turn to wonder as I bask in the newfound connection we have as the give and take of our conversation becomes more volley than catch.

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what is changing, yet I feel the inexorable passage of time. I am quite honestly terrified at growing old, not for loss of beauty or independence, though I’m sure I’ll mourn those, I shudder at losing this time. Losing this moment when I am Mom, magician, fixer of things and hurts, and teacher. I hope that I will always be those things on some level, but it will never again be this potent. I love solving the riddle of her tempermant, deciphering signals that lead me to making her happy, chasing away tears or diffusing a tantrum. I revel in the sensation of her small hand in mine, at once strong and fragile. I love riding out the desire to step in when she says she can do it. I ache when she moves past needing help, but then does something that so delights me in its demonstration of her finding her own way.

Tonight, brushing our teeth, she on a stool and me standing behind her, I watched her waving her tooth brush under the stream of water. She paused and then reached for the faucet, turning the hot water off and increasing the cold. She swiped her brush in the stream and lifted it to her mouth to drink. My jaw hung wide open as I watched her use the brush to catch more water to drink. Then she switched the temperature again to moisten a wash cloth. It seemed so incomprehensible that she would know to take these precautions, but she did. And she did so as if she’d been doing it all along, instead of doing it for the very first time right before my eyes.

Just the other day she replaced Mommy with Mama. I had thought that it was a one time thing as she tends to bounce back and forth with the ways she calls out for us.

Mama give Briar a fresh shirt to fix the water on my neck?

Oh Mama, thank you so very much.

The context of how she is using it feels more grown up, yet the musical way she says it seems to somehow bridge the span between the little Briar of the past 2 and a half years and the little girl that is bursting through. I am working very hard to keep the tears at bay with each milestone so that I can see clearly enough to celebrate the next achievement.

Don’t worry, Mama. Don’t worry.