Here at Five

If you’re looking for a post about instructional technology, the demise of higher education, or the woes of hacking software to bend it to your will, move along. This isn’t the one for you.

Five years ago today at 4:16 in the morning, my whole world changed. The universe sort of hiccuped, spun 180 degrees, and then came sharply back into focus on this:

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From the moment my daughter was born, she challenged everything about me, about my expectations, my needs, my worries, my hopes, and my values. She literally saved my life, forcing me to work harder on making myself a better, happier, stronger person so that I could be the best, happiest, strongest mom possible.

Every stage of her life so far has been marked for me, as a mom, with overwhelming joy and sadness. The most unexpected part of parenting, for me, was the realization that with every new phase of rite of passage, a previous one was lost. Being a parent is about living within a constant balancing act of loss and triumph. I frequently find myself mourning the days when she was one and not walking but beginning to find language. When she was two and finally moving and finding an internal determination that simply overwhelmed me at times. When she was three and preparing for the arrival of her brother while suddenly also emerging as a whole person, with viewpoints, talents, and fears. When she was four and had just begun to discover the joys of learning, of being a big sister and role model.

Today she turns five, and she is this remarkable, spunky, outrageous little girl. She can be charming and sweet one moment and a firestorm of willpower and determination the next. She loves princessess and bugs, superheroes and butterflies. I regularly find rocks in her pockets in the washing machine that she has collected to bring home to her father. She is a person whom I love to talk to, whom I look forward to seeing every morning. She makes me crazy. She makes me worry. She makes me laugh. I miss and treasure all the things she’s been to me, and I love every second of what she is now.

For some reason five has seemed like a huge birthday to me. Perhaps it’s because I can actually remember being five myself. Perhaps it’s because this is the first birthday where she’s seemed to actually process the meaning of the passage of time. Perhaps it’s because as she turns this age I see the last remnants of babyhood, toddlerhood fall away. For whatever reason, this birthday has unearthed a sea of memories and feelings about my first days and weeks with this child and about the five years that have brought us to here.

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