In their early teens, my daughter and her five best girl friends from grade school used to wander around the Upper West Side, window shopping and laughing and sometimes stopping to ride a quarter-driven hobby horse like the one in this photo. My girl is old enough to vote now, and will do so in the next election. This photo of the horse, unattended except by the gumball machines, strikes me as an apt metaphor for the ephemeral nature of childhood.
Will it always be this way? I miss my children before they even leave. My son was here last weekend, and the morning of the day he was supposed to leave to go back to college, I awoke with my heart tender and sore. Today I ache from missing my daughter, who's going away with friends for spring break in Mexico next week. She hasn't even left yet. The girl is going to college, for heaven's sake. She's spending summer in some woods as a camp counselor. She is leaving home. Following her brother out into the world. God, please keep them safe.
I have loved every second of raising my children, even those moments that were so very hard. My husband whispers to me these days. He says, This is what's supposed to happen. This is how it's supposed to work if you're lucky. And we are.