Once upon a time, I comforted myself with the knowledge that, eventually, she would go to kindergarten and not be so dependent on me for everything. That I would once again be 'free'. That's a cold comfort now because, despite what I thought, I did manage to rebuild a sense of self from the smouldering ruin of my ego, but it's got her in it. It was built around her.
So the prospect of just... setting her off on the road to the rest of her life, outside of my direct influence, is maddening. The five years where she was 'mine' in our little isolated domestic bubble, which used to seem like they would stretch on forever, seem impossibly short in retrospect. It didn't hit me when she was a baby, or a toddler - it hits me now, a like the feeling of closing an engrossing book and being surprised by the realization it was only a small physical object after all, with a clear beginning and end, though the world felt limitless while you were inside.
And people would tell me that, you know 'cherish this time, it goes by so fast' and all that. When joy is thin and sleep is a memory, when your toddler has made it their tiny life's work to break you, it's an impossible task. We're doomed, I think, to constantly be looking back and thinking, oh, that wasn't so bad, I could use some more of that.
(While I have this green time traveling portal, I think I'd like to go back and laugh at myself every time I said I wouldn't have kids, and then some more every time I vowed it 'wouldn't change me'. HAH.)