Time and Parenthood

Parts of me get lost in time.

Today my children are teenagers, and yet some night when one is at a sleepover and the other is staying with my ex-wife, I have the horrible feeling that my children at ages 2 and 4 are crying for me somewhere in the shadows of time. In that old house on 27th Street where we had to replace the entire sewer pipe from the house to the city main line. In the always-cold apartment near the base of Pike’s Peak. In an upstairs bedroom of the house near an air base where we saw the foxes in our backyard.

When my kids spend the summer with their other mom in California, some acquaintance or colleague will ask, “Isn’t it hard? Don’t you miss them?”

“I miss them all of the time, even when they are here,” I answer.

I miss my son and daughter at all of the ages they have been. Moment to moment they evolve and grow, discard old things and incorporate new ones. Every day brings a new face that I get to know and, later, get to miss.

Here is what I mean: I miss the version of my son that was obsessed with ceiling fans. The one that said “crocky-dile”. The one that loved piggy back rides. The one that climbed everything–the higher the better–at the park. The one that’s a crack shot and excellent marksman on video games.

Here is what I mean: I miss the version of my daughter that wanted to be held most of the time. The one that loved a plastic plesiosaur named “Poky”. The one that sang and danced constantly. The one that invents her fashion style on her terms.

They change, but each version remains in my memory, similar but evolving, new but still consistent. Although I miss the many people they have been already, none of it is lost because I was there and I remember.

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