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This is Where the Time Went

Elizabeth Spencer


When your baby turns 18 or 21 or 40, or any age that seats them squarely at the adult table, you look at them and — for a moment — think you don’t know where the time went.

You hear the implied question echoing in the voices of those who’ve gone before you down the adult-child road and, now, in your own mind: “I don’t know where the time went.”

But then you give it a little more thought and realize you do have some idea where it went.

It went to the moment you first saw your baby, and a piece of your heart you didn't know was missing fell into place.

It went to the moment when you were discharged from the hospital or sent on your way from the social worker’s office and thought, "That’s it? You’re letting me go? I’m in charge now?”

It went to the moment when you clumsily buckled your impossibly small package into the car seat and drove home at 35 miles an hour and stopped far short of any light that seemed close to so much as turning yellow.

It went to the moment you walked into your house with a human being who had not previously dwelled there and wondered, “Now what am I supposed to do?”

It went to the moment when you first got to say “my daughter” or “my son.”

It went to the moment when you looked into the eyes of your child and saw your past and their future there.

It went to the moment you bolted awake because your baby had slept for an hour or some previously unheard-of stretch of night, and you had to check their breathing.

It went to the moment when you put one candle on a birthday cake and thought that a year had never gone so slowly and so quickly all at the same time.

It went to the moments when your infant or preschooler or tween or teen did something on their own for the first time...rolling over or crawling or walking or getting themselves dressed or driving a car or scheduling their own doctor's appointment.

It went to the moment when your tiny student walked into a kindergarten classroom with a backpack bigger than they were.

It went to the moments (many) when you and your child were both sad and/or mad and/or crying and/or frustrated, but you still loved each other anyway.

It went to the moments when you learned how to do something new together.

It went to the moments when you waited for the right time to say something.

It went to the moments when you understood it was a good time not to say anything.

It went to the moments when something they’d been struggling with finally clicked and your pride piled on top of relief.

It went to the moments when you had to step back and stand by and let them make mistakes you hoped to heaven would teach them something worthwhile.

It went to the moments when someone broke their heart and you didn’t know what to say and so you just held them and trusted in the healing power of presence.

It went to the moments when you got to watch them do something they loved and it lit them up.

It went to the moment when something they worked so hard for didn't go the way they wanted it to.

It went to the moment when something they worked so hard for went exactly the way they wanted it to.

It went to the moments when they did something for you that you’d always done for them.

It went to the moments (many, many) when you waited: to pick them up, to hear how the test or try-out or presentation or performance went, to see their car turn into the driveway.

It went to the moment when you watched your graduate walk across a stage in a cap and gown and you thought how wonderfully wrong you'd been to think you couldn't love them more than you did when they were born because, in that moment and in so many others, you absolutely do.

When your baby turns 18 or 21 or 50 or any age, really, you think about all this and realize that, while you might not be able to get your head around where the time went, your heart knows exactly where.
It went to love.
And given the chance, that’s where it will keep going, forever.

Mom reflects on her daughter growing up


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    Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection and brutally honest fashion advice. She’s been married for 24 years to an exceedingly patient guy she picked up in church. She writes about faith, food and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and on Facebook and Twitter. She is grateful to contribute to several other sites, including Your Teen For Parents, Grown and Flown, and Her View From Home.

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