I’m slicing green peppers for tomorrow’s lunches while simultaneously overseeing homework and a shower-taker still in training. The older two walk through the door to paninis waiting on the table. Eager to tell me about her new gig as one of the JV football managers, the freshman starts in but there comes a bang from the bathroom and I have to run to check.
I pull back the curtain and she looks up, unfazed. “Oh, hi mommy,” she says, as if my arrival on scene was scheduled and I made it right on time without even knowing I was due. She is covered–toe to tip–in suds. A single eye looks up at me, the other hidden behind a wash of bubbles. Something about the look in her eye catches within me and for a second my heart rises in my chest and threatens to flow out from in.
She hinges on the far edge of twelve, an age at which most girls would be mortified to be happened upon while showering. Of course, she’s anything but most girls. She’s worked long and hard on this showering solo and it shows, in that single eye.
You know that moment when you’re standing apart and watching from afar and a dream–lofty or not–of your child comes true? They walk across a stage or stick a landing or get a call that changes everything. There comes a tingling in your chest because as much as they wanted it, you wanted it tenfold.
I know that there are those who watch me ushering this child along and–though they’d never say so–there is pity there. They think I don’t know, but they forget who I was Before. Of course I know.
I’m the one with the secret. Because, when every. little. thing. is so steep a mountain to climb, it makes for one helluva view from the top. This much I know.