*I took the amateur photo above of our garden beds. If you squint you can see the green carrot tops in the foreground.
She insists we pause at the carrots she planted with her father at each descent to the garage, her eyes scanning for the tender green blades that disclose their just-realizing incipience.
“They growed-ed overnight,” she confesses knowingly, testing a turn of phrase not-her-own in babyish language all hers, a past participle dangling with ungainliness at the end. I know I should correct the grammar, but I savor it instead: a curio of her quickly-evaporating early youth.
Something elastic happens to time once you become a mother. An hour can feel like a lifetime, and a year can zip by so quickly it nearly erases itself, and the malapropisms and baby grammar and peek-a-boo along with it. And running straight through (or perhaps an asymptote of or other-geometric-function-whose-name-I-can’t-recall to) those distortions: the wilderness of time as witnessed by a child. Time has virtually no meaning to my daughter. A doctor’s appointment could be in four months or four minutes and will still engender the same furious trepidation.
“I will not open my mouth for the doctor,” she insists, sternly, despite the fact that the appointment is in two months.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” I tell her, but to a four-year-old, we are already halfway across that bridge and the troll is nigh beneath us.
Conversely, next week might as well be next decade. She’s been asking about Christmas since January 1st with varying degrees of frustration. Mr. Magpie and I engage in semi-regular strategy sessions about when to break certain things to her. We don’t want to delude her, but why tell her about something today that she will then fret about for weeks, with no firm grasp on when it will become a reality? Why have her wake every morning and ask “is today the dentist?” or “is tomorrow Christmas?” A wall calendar helps, but only so much. She will occasionally, painstakingly, count the number of squares between today and some date with a sticker on it next month, interrupting herself at each error to start over. And when we’ve recited all twenty-two days between now and then, she seems to arrive at no useful conclusion. “Is twenty-two days long or short?” she asks. (How do I answer that? Both? Neither?) Most nights, we retreat from the exchange, and I deposit her in her bed with no greater clarity on the matter, and then my heart stops when she asks: “Can I play with toys when I’m a grown up?”
And so I know that something is processing, that she is beginning to calculate. I can spot the tender green blades.
Still: “I’ll ride when I’m older,” she sniffed recently, turning her tender baby cheek away from the extravagance of a bicycle gifted by her grandparents mid-year, and not to mark any particular milestone or occasion.
“When?” I ask.
“When I’m six.”
Then: Halloween is “too long away.”
And: “How old am I?” I have on occasion asked her.
“Nineteen hundred,” she shrugged once. Another time: “Seven.”
So time is elastic to her, too, but in a different way. For her, time is an inkblot, a void. It is simultaneously cause for grave concern about what she can and cannot do upon reaching certain milestones and simply a convenience: a way of putting-off or getting-to things she wants or does not. “I’ll bike when I’m six,” she says, meaning instead: “I am scared and don’t want to think about that for a long, long time.”
But for me, time is both a plundering thief and a sentry. It steals from me, on feline feet, and at the same time leaves me looking with bewilderment at the long arm of the clock. (How will I ever make it to bed time?)
Anyhow, there is something about the carrots now-sprouting in our garden beds and my daughter’s ministrations to them that catches in my throat. The garden is drawing our time graphs closer to one another, near-syncing them. Something about the immaterial-turned-very-material experience of time as a mother seems to conflate with her attentiveness to those invisible-today-and-two-inches-long-tomorrow seedlings. She is beginning to see that I am not the keeper of time, the mercurial figure who can tell her that one day she is going to the dentist and the next day she is seeing her cousins, who is both seven and nineteen hundred. She is beginning to witness rhythms bigger than us all. I love watching this awareness coagulate, but is it yet another demerit to time that I vaguely begrudge it for superseding me in her eyes?
These resentments gain me nothing. They are reflexive and futile and yet —
They remind me to keep my eyes on those blades while still-tender.
+For my husband, gardening is like prayer.
+This post reminds me that attention is a form of love.
+Not explicitly related, but how long did it take you to heal from childbirth?
+Today at 12 EST, Hill House launches their “university collection.” I’m mainly excited about their new “Cher” dress in tartan plaid, but they also have some lovely emerald green and burgundy print nap dresses perfect for easing into fall.
+This bag looks like Celine. Gorgeous color.
+These ceramic painted pumpkins would look really cute mixed in with your ginger jar collection. A subtle nod to the holiday?
+These tortoise serving bowls are chic enough to keep out permanently — maybe fill with matchboxes from special restaurants?
+Slouchy sweater for under $30 in great colors — love the neckline.
+These Halloween cocktail napkins are so cheeky — ha! I need them.
+I’ve seen a few beauty bloggers go wild for this color corrector from Charlotte Tilbury…it’s sitting in my cart.
+Love a printed shirtdress.
+OMG this sherpa ballcap for a tiny one.
+And a $13 corduroy ballcap for us!
+Have been getting some use out of my Shabbies this season already! I like to pair them with a really polished flat (i.e., Chanel captoe or pointed toe flat) and crisp white tee to balance out the edginess. Would look great topped with a tweed blazer.
+A shawl-collar puffer in fantastic colors!
+I own this skirt in a different print and je l’adore.
+This floaty white dress is spectacular — very LSF but only $118!
+Treat your husband: Vilbrequin suits are on sale at Gilt. These are the “It” suit of the well-heeled European crowd. Mr. Magpie has their Moorea trunks — I love them in solids paired with a Lacoste polo for poolside lounge, and I also got him a new pair of printed ones.
+Adding this to my fall wardrobe wishlist for micro.
+Love this chunky blue sweater — such a great color!
+Another seriously cute Halloween costume. Etsy is a treasure trove!