I tiptoe into their bedroom to hang up freshly ironed dresses, all ready for church in the morning, and pause to take a mental capture of those beautiful faces. Giggles are quieted for now; sisterly quarrels paused until the next major catastrophe. (As perceived by them. Because everything is a major catastrophe.) So soon they'll be young ladies...all grown up and, hopefully, less dramatic. And I'll miss that. Maybe almost as much as I'll miss kissing those pink cheeks goodnight and being struck once again with that wonderful, heady sense that to them, I'm the best mom in the world, and they love me. Unconditionally. And, oh, how I love them! On the way out of the room I take one more peek. Two little girls, all snuggled up, the youngest with her cheek resting on the furry back of our tiny dog. (Another "we'll never...!" broken. Oh, well.) Not very long ago that little girl was terrified of that little dog. How she's changed--and grown.
Into the room with John Deere tractors, John Deere prints, and John Deere decorations everywhere you look. This little kid is all boy. I am once again amazed at how angelic he looks lying there, mischievous blue eyes closed, sweet lips closed for just a little while, and busy, trouble-making little hands finally still. This child, who has driven me to distraction and caused me to rewrite my mental book on parenting over and over, who has brought joy, laughter, and little-girl screams of terror into our lives, is a mystery to me. One minute sweet as honey, and the next.... But I love him so much it hurts. He's got some big plans, this little man. So far, he's going to be a builder, a policeman, a fireman, and, most recently, an artist who lives at home with his mommy. I like that last one. I'm sure I won't like the idea when he's thirty. He's four now, but already losing the need to snuggle, and that's just another painful reminder that my little boy is growing up far too quickly. Tonight was different. He wanted me to hold him. Of course, I did. All too soon I won't be able to hold him anymore...and I don't even want to think about that.
I'm ready to do a little more ironing when she comes into the kitchen, the tall, slender girl who used to be so tiny that preemie clothes nearly fell off her. Her wisdom and wit astonish me, but I'm still pleasantly surprised at times to see that little-girl need for her mommy deep in those eyes. I hope I'll always see it. She heads off to get ready for bed, I admonish her to hurry. I'm wasting my breath, I know. She's slow, and a dreamer. Like her mom. Pity. Everything takes her twice or three times as long as it should. And, just as I supposed, far too long has passed before she's finally ready to get a goodnight kiss and hug and turn in. I already feel sorry for the man who will spend half his life waiting for her, as her father has for me. We're kindred spirits, she and I. I couldn't love her more, and yet I do every day.
Another day is marked off the calendar, time irreversibly passed. Everyone is resting up for tomorrow when we'll start it all over again.
And I love that, too.