Time and growing up, you may say, are incremental. They cannot be so easily measured.

Save these moments – when the universe adds a summation line to the spreadsheet of a life and calls for a total.

That sum is always bigger than you expect.

The first time you see it, it is a trick of the light. A way of holding a head, a momentary posture that makes you think adult and not child. Freckles erase, limbs lengthen and voices deepen when the light shows you the line. You had no idea there were so many small increments to make such a large sum.

Next what becomes hidden is the figures that came before the sum. In the shadow, the child slips away, leaving this remarkable creature that suddenly unfolds into an adult. The summation lines come too quickly and leave you wondering where that child really went. You know that there were figures before the sum, but try as you do to count the increments, you still only see the sums.

Today is my youngest nieces’s birthday. She answered the phone, wished me good morning and told me that it was her birthday. She’s 3. In an instant I heard a little girl’s voice and not a toddler’s.

We debated what to eat for dinner last night, Taryn and I. We discussed whose car to take. I watched the sun play off her hair last night as we ate our curry. We talked about law school applications and graduate degrees and third wave feminism. and I thought of the little girl I once knew – the one that was Emma’s age – who is now this perfect adult.

If I look at the spreadsheet, see the summation lines for each of them, I wonder if I have done enough work in the hidden figures before the sum?

Not to form them or shape them. No. Not that. That’s my job.

Have I done enough in the figures so that a goodly portion of each summation line is filled with love. Goodness. Belief. Courage for the days to come.

It’s the little things that matter. The moments that are so small that you don’t see them. You don’t see them coming, you don’t mind then when they happen and you aren’t aware after they are gone.

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