Pssst…hey you! You still out there? I wanted to tell you what’s happened. Do you see these babies?
Ignore, if you would, that one of them may be trying to strangle the other…but do you see them? Those are my babies. Were. Are. They have dimples on the backs of their hands in this picture and they were all wearing clothes that I’d chosen, washed and helped them dress in. Their hair smelled like strawberry kiwi shampoo and, when they were tired, they would want to be held…arms holding tight, soft cheeks smushed up against my neck. We never once made it through the grocery store without someone being fussy; so much so that, to this day, if I hear a baby crying in the grocery store and I’m standing in the check out, I start to sway back and forth and bounce a little. It’s always a few seconds before I realize that it’s not my baby crying. Because, my babies? They’ve grown.
Back then, we had music classes and Gymboree and playdates every day. A lot of that was for me. I relied on the friendship and the support from the other parents. We’d swap stories and support. “You’re an amazing mom”, we’d say. “This job is hard and you’re doing great.” These days, that’s harder to do. These babies? They’re 2 teens and a tween now. They schedule their own playdates and they don’t call them that anymore. They have their own thoughts and beliefs. We disagree sometimes. I accidentally encouraged them to be independent thinkers not knowing that might lead them to being independent thinkers. My bad. They can read too…and so can their friends. Some of their friends read this blog. (No, I don’t know why….but thanks guys!😊) And I can’t share their stories the way I used to. That is to say…I could…but it wouldn’t be fair. So many of them are private. Personal. I know that because sometimes one of them will do something hilarious or sweet or silly and then will look me directly in the eye and say, “Mom. Do NOT write about that!” And so I don’t. I can’t tell you about how I’ve become a super-tone-reader. How, at the end of the day when I come home and call “hey – I’m home” and they respond? I can instantly tell from the tone of their responses how their days have gone. Okay…I guess I can tell you that one. My point is…it’s more delicate now. I try to be sensitive. I try to think about how they would feel…these almost-adults I have here.
But I think this story’s okay.
Yesterday. Yesterday the youngest wanted to go swimming. He wanted, I think, for his sisters to go too…but one was out with a friend and the other decided to take a nap and so I offered to take him myself. He wanted to go to a swimming hole in the woods. The one with the 15 foot jump into the deep river-fed pool below. I had never been there. He’d only been there once, but he insisted that he knew the way.
He remembered that, last year, when he’d gone with some friends, the dad had parked at the high school nearby and he was certain that he could get us to the swimming hole if I could get us to the high school. “It’s a long walk though, mom….and you need to wear sneakers. Partiers go there at night and so sometimes there’s some broken glass.” And so, although it was 98 degrees out and the house was a delightful 76…we set out.
We parked at the high school and I grabbed my phone to see if I could get GPS coordinates that would help us walk there. “Mom…seriously. Put your phone away. I’ve got this.” And so I put my phone away. Did I mention that it was 98 degrees? But I followed. I followed him down one road, and then another. The second had blind curves and no shoulder and I was a little nervous in the heat with only one bottle of water between us…but I followed. Because it seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed important.
I followed him down 2 asphalt roads and into the woods. Past 2 forks in the trail until finally, we heard the water rushing. He was right. He had it.
These babies of mine? They don’t have dimples on the backs of their hands, they don’t need my help dressing and they don’t smell like strawberry kiwi shampoo anymore. They are strong and fierce and full of plans and dreams and a burgeoning sense of independence that sometimes takes my breath away. They know things that I don’t know and can lead me places I’ve never been.
I don’t know quite what to make of all of it, this betwixt and between place where we find ourselves. Some days I love it and some days it’s hard. Most days I guess a whole lot more than I’m comfortable with. I try. I do my best to understand and I love watching them grow. Mostly. Still…at night when they’re asleep…just sometimes…I swear I can still smell a whiff of the strawberry-kiwi shampoo. ❤️