Every so often, I'm hit with a wave of nostalgia that pretty much kicks my ass.
When the girl was small, she was pretty well-behaved. She only wrote on a door one time with a crayon; she didn't have a tendency to just rip stuff up or break things. The only real juvenile delinquent-type defacement she did was writing in books. I don't know why she did it - if she saw me making notes in my books, if it was just a fun way to put pen to paper - but there are many, many, MANY books in our house that have little examples of her Banksy skills.
The fun/bittersweet thing is, I never know when I'll run across these little madeleines. I know, for example, that there are pages of my torn apart copy of Joy of Cooking that have her etchings [I'm the one who, somehow, managed to tear off BOTH the front and back covers of this book, as well as several pages of the index; if I ever need to make yucca, I'm in trouble], but I don't know which pages. Looking up a recipe for salad dressings will find me tracing my finger alone a series of shakily formed circles, focusing more on them than on the correct proportions of olive oil to vinegar.
Lately, I've been re-reading Emma [my favorite Jane Austen] before bed. I love falling asleep to the gentle, perfectly wrought words. The other night, as I was nearing the end of the book, I turned a page to be greeted with some of the girl's early efforts in critical theory:
I know - some lines on yellowed pages. Nothing monumental or earth-shattering; these aren't proto-Picassos. But they took my breath away, took me back so I could see, with startling clarity, her dark little head bent over the book, a look of concentration on her sweet face, pen gripped awkwardly, making her mark.
I'm happy we had one child. I love her more than my own life. I'm thrilled to get to know the person - the adult - she's becoming. But there are moments when I miss, with a ferocity that surprises me, the baby she used to be.