Last night, I heard Sam coughing from his bedroom. I crept into the room to watch him sleep, to make sure he was safe, secure, and asleep. Jack was laying horizontally on his bed, so I gently righted him, laying his head on the pillow and smoothing the blankets back over him, snug and warm. He didn't even open his eyes, but curled back up on his side murmuring "Thanks, Mom" in his sleep. I checked the thermometer in their room to make sure it was a perfect 74 degrees, and then sat on the edge of the bed staring at these little people that encompass so much of my world now. I thought to myself "How is it possible to love someone SO much? Has any child on earth ever been loved this much?" And as always, I began to think of the children who were not asleep on soft beds, who had not eaten dinner, taken a warm bath, put on clean pjs, read stories or received a kiss from their adoring parents. I think often of those children as I stare at my own, wishing I had enough time, enough energy, enough resources to give those children the life they deserve. And then I began to wonder if other mothers feel that way. Is it motherhood that makes my heart ache for those other children; being a woman perhaps, or maybe even just being a human.
A vision flashed back to the morning preschool rush; pushing the kids out the door, racing down the road, running into the building, flying back for pickup. As I sat in the pickup line waiting for Jackson, I saw three older women leaving the church, slowly and laboriously walking, limping, towards their cars. The sounds of their voices was mingling with the sounds inside my minvan, those of Sam and Olivia talking and babbling, the Leapfrog DVD playing AGAIN. I thought about how nice it was to have the leisure of standing in the parking lot, taking their time going places, chatting for a few moments, obviously no need to hurry anywhere. The mixed emotions I felt were both not wanting to grow old, not wanting my kids to grow up, leave me, and lead their own lives, but also having a lifetime of memories to carry with me. I began picturing these women having their morning coffee on a sunfilled porch, napping in the afternoon, and spending the evening with their children and grandchildren over a comforting homecooked meal in the house that is filled with their memories. Suddenly, being old didn't seem so bad through my rose colored glasses.
Sam woke again, interrupting my thoughts and making it clear I would need to sleep in their room after all. I snuggled in next to Jack, Sam placing his hand inside mine, his new favorite way to fall asleep. Not JUST holding hands, but hands intertwined. I kissed the chubby dimples on his knuckles, whispered an "I love you" and tried to close my eyes, but their smell was intoxicating and I once again feared the day when I will no longer sleep between them in a bed, feeling their soft skin, stroking their smooth cheeks, and running my hands through their tousled hair as they drift. I will no longer hum "You Are My Sunshine" over and over or answer random questions like "Mom, when I lose a tooth will I still be able to eat crunching things sometimes?" in the glow of their nightlight. Soon Jackson won't lay in bed sounding out words, and trying to spell them... "P-p-p-pig. Starts with P! P-I-i-i-i. Then I! P-i-g-g-g-g. Then G! PIG!" Soon I won't be a goddess, a magician able to produce lost toys, make favorites foods out of nowhere, and make boo-boos disappear with a simple kiss.
I love being a woman and I love the gift of motherhood. I hope it lasts.