I love to look at Little Thing all the time, but looking at her in the rear-view while running the roads (aka rodayin’ to the Cajuns) leaves me breathless.
It’s dead-on distracted driving and borderline reckless endangerment, but the sight of her reflection while on the road surprises me.
Every. Damn. Time.
She looks more innocent in her three-point harness booster:
More baby than little girl.
Glimpsing her gazing out the window, analyzing her frustration as she urges me to “beat” (pass) cars on the interstate because she doesn’t want to lose, catching her car dancing while belting it to “Shake It Off,” or watching her nodding off to sleep. In all instances, her baby innocence mystifyingly predominates over her little girl features in her mirror-image, a mirage of days begone.
Capable of transfiguring her from kindergartener to infant, my rearview mirror is a time machine; a simple flick of the eye rewinds the present into her cooing days.
I am literally viewing her backwards, and she figuratively Benjamin Buttons on me. Her cheeks and thighs fattening to maddening pinch-worthy squishiness. Her eyes metamorphosing back to manga style prominence with her dark, long eyelashes framing big, sparkling brown eyes. Her long brown hair transforming into baby-fine curling whispies. Her car seat even reverts into her long forgotten infant carrier.
Lost in the past and regretfully tearing my eyes off the mirror, my eyes return to the road and the spell is broken.
More than once, Little Thing has sensed the atmosphere plummeting from nostalgia to soul-shattering heartache and has quipped from her Graco, “What’s wrong, My Mommy?”
“Nothing, My Baby.” I choke, wiping away my tears, because she always will be my baby but isn’t one anymore.
But at least I have a rear-view mirror time machine to ease my pain.
And her, of course.