02 Sep light and love
The dawn is just edging its way past our white curtains, and already I hear them. Thunder roaring down the hall. They tumble into our bed and vie for the best spot. If I’m lucky, they won’t fight for me. One will nuzzle beneath my chin and the other drape across Kris’ broad chest. And together we’ll snooze another 20 minutes.
“Smell my feet, Mom,” she says, and I crack one eye open to see pea-size toes staring me down. And yes, they do smell. I tell her so. She responds with big, heaving belly laughs.
When did this happen? Babies don’t act like this. Kids do. It’s sad that those toes are less kissable than they once were.
Another foot whacks me in the ear. “Smell. Feet, Mama. Smell.” His are not much sweeter. But his breath is. I pull him close and accept a sloppy kiss on the lips.
Kris grumbles. It’s too early. He acts genuinely surprised by their presence every morning. Like this is supposed to be the day they finally sleep past 6:30. Like, remember that time? When we were on vacation and they slept until 9? We had coffee and read the newspaper.
If he was more awake, if I was more awake, I could remind him that they slept late because we were in a different time zone. I could remind him that someday he’ll miss this.
He knows. Things are changing. We all can sense it.
B says in one breath, “I don’t ever want to get bigger,” and in another she pines for the privileges big kids have. She knows she is funny. She’s discovered the art of the joke and the allure of mischief.
Last week at lunch, she tried “dammit” on for size. “Dammit, Mom, I said I want milk!” And immediately she repented. She knew it was not the right thing to say, but a boy at school said it, and she wanted to say it, to see what I’d do.
It made me sad to hear that word from my baby’s lips, and I told her so. There are words that just make people feel bad….and truth be told, “damn” isn’t always one of them. But it was the realization that this is where we are. She is in the world, hearing things she’s not used to hearing, exposed to things she’s not familiar with.
Later that same day I heard her in the playroom. “Dammit, where’s my pony?” And this time I laughed, because, well, she had “dammit” down pat. She used it in context, and that makes the writer in me proud.
We talked about it. No anger. Just conversation about words and how words can make people feel, including the person who speaks them. It was a surprisingly intellectual conversation for an almost-4-year-old. And she hasn’t said “dammit” since.
|rock family, pine cone family and seed family. see all the baby rocks?|
There’s a mental spiral I start to go down when I think the kids are growing up too fast. I begin to imagine them two years from now, then five, then ten, and I fear I will wake up tomorrow and they’ll be out and gone. I feel it when a stranger approaches me in a store and comments on how cute they are and delivers that cliché that so many seasoned mothers do, “enjoy them! It all goes by so fast!” Though I can see the sincerity in her eyes. Hers are teenagers now. Still, I despise those words.
My advice is to be present today and write it all down. As much as you can. Write. And tell the stories to the people in your life who keep your stories safe.
I’m learning to dig my heels in and remember that this is just today. Things are changing, but it’s not linear and it’s not exponentially fast and today is still one day. I can’t slow them down, these
babies kids of mine, but I can slow down and savor it. Stinky toes and all.