Last night, I put the boys to bed. We were behind schedule, and even after the door had been closed, there was much discussion — request for drinks, bathroom breaks, stuffed animals and favorite cars — and quite a bit of running around as well. It wasn’t until 9:30 that the boys were tucked in for good, and that only came after I gave in to Squish’s cries and held and rocked him for a while. The boy had exhausted himself crying for me and was cuddlier than he’s been in months.
Afterward, and after I’d finished my tasks — the writing, the dishes, a half-hearted attempt to clean-up — and was sitting on the couch reading and chatting with Micah as he worked, I wondered if I’m savoring it enough, this time of young children, this period when they need me and I can be there with them always to see them learn, to hear their little voices say things I had never expected, to watch their personalities flourish and grow.
At times I am sure that no matter what I do, no matter how many pictures I take, or “firsts” I record, or utterances I laugh at and share with all who care (or don’t) to hear them, I will feel like it’s gone too fast. I’ll wish that I had done more to enjoy this time and to savor it. I’ll pine for those carefree days when we could do whatever we wanted and didn’t have to abide by anybody’s schedule but our own.
Yes, this is what happens late at night, when I’ve survived another day, when I’ve been called upon to rock and hug and kiss and sing the last thing before lights out. I think that this is the life I want to live forever. I think: This is my perfect moment.
But then I wake up. It is raining, and we have places to go. There are tears over rain boots, fingernails bared over light-switch privileges, moping, whining, foot dragging. We have arguments over which pants to wear, over how much breakfast to eat — and whose. We walk for over an hour in the rain, one child trying to navigate a newly acquired bike, the other constantly, and vocally, fearful that his rainboots are going to fall off.
And as we inch our way down the sidewalk, with me bent over to steer the bike and guide it through the bumpy sidewalks while the child on my back slides to the side, threatening to fall off despite the carrier that is strapping him on, I think: Just kidding.