It is a gift, to see this much beauty of heart every day.
I sit for a long time, gripping the wheel in my illegally parked car outside the airport drop off. If I careen my neck I can see into the lobby to watch as my Mom fumbles through her wallet for credit cards and ID and clicks through selections at the self-check-in screens. I am waiting for the kiosk to spit out her boarding tickets. This waiting, it is a small gesture, a final way of taking care of Mom the way she has done for me -- for all of us -- all this time.
She looks for me and signals that she's all set. We smile and mouth I love you's, and I get a little teary as she walks off into the crowd. I breathe deeply and feel the realization of the role reversals: when my mother would always tear up at airport dropoffs, and I'd be the one sauntering off into the crowd toward some new journey of my young adult life, feeling the slight tug and pressure of her longing for me to stay. And look at us now. Me, here, behind the wheel, extending the goodbye as long as possible, tearing up and wishing she could stay longer.
Summer seems to have come and gone and I look back in a panic. What did we do? Where did our days go? Were they rich and full? Do the kids have amazing memories of this time? We traveled mid-July instead of our usual August, perhaps that was it -- why the summer felt truncated. Or maybe it was that I didn't go back East this summer, to the little beach island where I'd spent summers all my life. Maybe that was what felt off. Now, what little traveling I did is over. The houseguests and family are all gone and suddenly I looked up and it was August.
And there it was, again, the eternal cry of Motherhood: "It's too fast! Summer's almost over! I blinked and they've grown so much!" Depending on your mood when this realization hits, it either fills you with pride as you see the remarkable people your children have become, or it quite simply terrifies you, this rush of time. Maybe it's a mix of the two.
The hyper-realization that Summer has almost ended has made me very intentional about our days. I like that. When I go on vacation, I become a lazy Mom. Lazy in that I know my children are surrounded with so many extra friends and family, whom I trust immensely, that I give over some of my parenting duties. Somewhere in my subconscious I know I can relinquish 25% or so of the responsibility, and I grab that 25% for myself. I grab it with everything I've got. It's brain space, heart and mind space I don't normally have for myself, and I miss it dearly. So I relinquish control. I need the rest from the responsibility of raising these whole, beautiful, kind, inspired, loving and loved people. It really is an incredible responsibility and an amazing privilege to do this work. It overwhelms me, sometimes, the beauty of it. The difficulty. The weight of it. I pray that I am up for the job, that I will guide them well. On another level -- a deeper, spiritual one-- I know, too, that my job is simply not to interfere. That if can truly show them my full heart, I will have already partially succeeded.
So when we're back from vacation, when the relatives from far-away have left, and my amazing Mother, especially, has carted away her grandmotherly cares onto the plane, I ready myself and drive off from the airport. The sun is setting into orange and pink dreams, making even the hard, industrial Airport Way neighborhoods morph into soft, rounded geometry. I steady myself again, and take a deep, pep-talk breath. A mental shift into Let's do this, I am back on duty, fully. I was ready and eager to have my kids back with me, our little family.
The children had developed some bad habits, some ugly behaviors that I had let slide too much on vacation. Some were fine for vacation (pajamas all day) but not so great for every day life (toothbrush? what's a toothbrush? and whose is that in the toilet?) Others were more serious like consistent rudeness or lack of manners. Time for Mama to take the wheel and steer their little ships into a course correction. So that task was at hand, surely. But even moreso was that I just wanted quality time with them this summer. I wanted to be really intentional about our days. To be soft but firm, and extra loving around the behavioral concerns. Of course to address the behaviors, but underneath that, to address the need, which, usually, is merely to have more time with me being full present with them. Connecting.
That is the other eternal cry of motherhood, or motherhood of multiples, especially: you never feel that you can give to each of them as fully as you want to, or feel you need to. All the children, they need you so much. Not all the time-- they're older, the're more independent in many ways now... but that deep need to be truly seen, appreciated, noticed... it's just as strong if not stronger as when they were babes. Just to have some one-on-one time with each of them daily... it's really hard to fit it all in. And I see the meltdowns and acting-outs increase in whomever I've paid the least attention to lately.
Daily, I just want to shout to them : I see you! I see you, darling girl, doing that somersault which you couldn't do three weeks ago, and now you can, and look how your hair falls on your dewey brow like that, just so, and your face is no longer a face but a luminant moon, bright hope beaming from your eyes, the purest thing I've ever seen.
But when you look at me to see if I'm watching you, you just catch my eyes darting over to your brother, who's bouncing his beloved ball. You chastise me, "Mo-o-o-m!" and I say Yes, yes, I'm looking, I'm watching, show me your somersault. But out of the corner of my eye, still, I am watching your brother, because if that ball bounces too far it will roll down the driveway, it will go into the street, because that what it does. And your brother loves that ball, and he will chase it to the ends of the earth, he will follow it, right down the driveway and into the street, if i don't watch him, so I worry for his safety. But yes, little one, I see you, do your performance, I'm watching.
And this is how it goes. The daily, beautiful, chaos; and sometimes (though less frequently) the stillness of a moment, that frozen second like a gasp of air. In and out, up and down, and we are just in the cycle of it, trying to stay present, calm, patient.
And so. I was on full alert mode. I am on full alert mode. Time. Love. Loving Firmness. and Play. Talking myself into more patience when necessary. I have felt stuck in a rut of where to go, what to do, here in this grand old city. I feel like after seven-plus years of kid-dom, I'm bored with our usual haunts. I crave outdoor adventures in woods and creeks and feel stymied by my geography. But I am determined to overcome, and work with what I have.
Today, this day, we had the beach. They had the sand, and the surf, and the sea. I had all that too, but most of all, I had them.
(a ghost sound "oooh" with her hands slowly moving up above her head.)
Love her little crooked smile.