Reclaiming My Time
How do you measure eight years of personal space?
Noli turned eight last week. She got exactly what she wanted for her birthday: a negative Covid test, which made it possible for her to go back to school after having to miss a whole week. From what I can tell, teachers don’t really do the “teacher’s pet” thing anymore, which is good but also too bad for Noli because she’s the kind of kid who could really get down with being one.
Noli made me a mother. A writer, too. The dedication of my first book is “For Mom and Noli Jo, who made me.” She sent me down this unexpected path, exploring a subject I never anticipated being interested in (let alone writing two books about), one that opened up so many internal and external channels and opportunities. I’m who I am because of her. She continues to make and remake me.
Lately she pushes me to a place that is new, but feels familiar. The space she puts between us, the way she walks away quickly and without hesitation, the way she looks at me and I know she is rolling her eyes on the inside—they are mildly devastating. Am I doing something wrong? Does she not like me anymore? Does she want me to come closer? It feels like the early days of dating someone, though it’s nothing like that at all.
Who are we, I wonder these days, without each other—or with a little less of each other. She becomes more independent daily; she takes showers, scrambles eggs, weaves bracelets, packs her lunch, reads for hours. She wants to go skiing, kayaking, hiking; it becomes increasingly obvious she is Will’s child. This morning she walked to school by herself.
I know her so well, but knowing her now means maintaining distance, asking her questions, backing off, staying attuned. It gives me more physical spaciousness than I’ve had in eight years.