I’m sitting in the middle of the coffee shop, hyper aware of everything. Of the clicking of the laptop to my right, of the flipping of the newspaper of the old man to my left, the scooping of the ice and the chatter of some old friends in the corner. I feel the weight of my fit bit on my arm, the fluttering of one hair to the left of my cornea. Everything feels on, and crackling. Sometimes I feel that way. Sometimes life feels that way – like sensory overload. Very loud, or very soft but either way – very obvious. Just very.
I’ve been feeling this very much with my kids – this crackling, the relative loud and softness of my love for them, the way it gets expressed, the way it feels. It is all sort of out body – I am living these moments with them, and observing them as well. The rapid speed at which they seem to be growing up and changing. The full body experience of my love adapting to their newer, bigger selves.
This morning Ruby tells me that she can see the sun coming out. Of course she is referring to her runny egg, and it proves to be a bit of a time machine moment. It is exactly what my mother and I would always say to each other when we would break into our sunny side up egg. The way the sticky yellow thick fluid would ooze and run across the page, like rays of sun breaking out through breakfast. Late at night, sometimes I curl up with Dylan in his bed and sit next to him while he reads. Often without thinking about it, he will very carefully reach up and grab a piece of my hair and twirl it between my fingers. It reminds me of the way I would grab the fringes of my father’s tallis, the security of having him beside me each year on the high holidays. It reminds me of the way Hope holds her elephant, made with that silky soft trim that my own baby blanket was made with years ago. I watch her clutch her soft toy. I understand completely. I am struck by how history seems to repeat itself, like a thin thread that connects my past with their future.
There is an inherent narcissism built into parenthood. We look into these faces and bodies and see glimpses of ourselves. The shape of our eyes, the curl of our hair. There is something familiar about them, right from the beginning. But by holding on to this piece of them that reminds us of ourselves, are we trying to hold on to our own childhood, or theirs? I read something recently where the author talked about how modern parents have conflated their own success with their children’s achievements when in fact success should be gauged by their relative independence. I wonder if this desire to tie my children to my past is some covert way to keep them tied to me, to prevent them from carving out their own history. I wonder if I am complicit in this modern conspiracy. Should I be looking for signs of my own childhood in theirs, or encouraging them to go out and make their own destiny?
Lately Hope will only nap if I take her for a drive in the car so I’ve been logging way more miles than usual. It is an odd kind of blessing, because I have an opportunity to bear witness all of fall’s glory up close, something I would have perhaps taken for granted otherwise in my daily shuttling to and from life’s business. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – everything about fall is just designed to break your heart. The colors just bursting from the trees and dotting the sky – the sharp reds and muted yellows and oranges. It is literally breathtaking. The part that really takes your breath away though is knowing you can’t hold it. You can’t keep it. You know that soon everything will be gone and bare and you will be thrust into the next season, ready or not. My mind is turning this over, dangerously distracted, when I realize how quickly I am approaching the car in front of me. I quickly slam on the brakes, snapping myself out of my daydreaming reverie. Sometimes it is long and winding and beautiful, but then sharpness, reality.
Yesterday, my oldest lost two teeth. Last week, the littlest gave up her much loved binkie. I catch an old picture of the middle girl from one year ago and am so struck by how much longer her hair and legs are. Whether I am ready or not, they are growing up and away from me.
I am thinking about all of this as I sit here alone with all three in school. It’s a modern phenomenon, being alone for any stretch of time. I can’t decide if it is awesome and liberating or slightly sad. I suspect like most moments in life, it is tinged with a bit of both. I look down at my toes and realize there are more leaves on the ground now then on the trees. It strikes me that winter’s solitude won’t be far off now. My head fights my heart to let go of the current season, and move forward. It’s best for all of us.