Forty-three months ago, we journeyed across the country to stake our claim on another new start. This time, North Carolina offered the promise of novelty. We sailed across the expansive sea of Kansas while I smiled at my babies in the backseat. They needed me. Desperate for juice, snacks, attention…they hailed me Queen of Their World. I owned the title and memorized every moment. When the baby clawed my legs demanding “up!”, I obliged saying, I’ll pick you up every time you ask. Because one day I won’t be able to. When the wild toddler organized the dining chairs and couch cushions into his “kitty house”, I rolled my eyes at the inconvenience of stepping over the mess. That man of mine reminded me that one day the kitty houses would just be chairs and cushions. So, I memorized more moments.
Before we knew it, the diapers were replaced by miniature underpants and the unintelligible syllables became actual English words. I cried during naptime, madly flipping through parenting books, trying to master this motherhood thing that was consuming me. The four-year-old was waging war and I felt wholly unprepared. The moments lingered, adding themselves to memory, this time without invitation.
Eventually, the four-year-old and I grew up together. He is entering the first grade and I the mid-thirties. We seem to be processing, simultaneously, that all of life is a breath. We laugh louder, we dance longer, we live with a tad more exuberance. The baby asks to watch his baby videos. His forty pound requests for “up” feel like a chore, but I still oblige. The elder takes out the trash. The kitty houses are long forgotten. They read to me. They play outside alone. And at night, when they sleep, I blink back salty teardrops and memorize them. Because I know in a minute or two they’ll be sailing the country with their own babies.