Seems just the other day that I sat by the window pining for autumn, now here it is, nipping at me with heavy rain and brisk winds, and a melancholy has set in. I think it is not the advent of autumn, but the rush of time it signals.
Briar is prancing about the house in underwear, the solid legs that used to poke from her diapers gone, in their place are limbs long and lean from running and dancing. The curve of her bottom is sharp and casts a shadow on taut hamstrings. I see the girl ahead, already here if I dare admit it, and yet the cotton princess underwear are a size too large, so they pucker and balloon around her form and I am reminded of how fragile and slight she still is. How can it be that just three years on this earth and I am mourning the passing of her youth? So many years are still ahead, and, in fact her nearness to the Briar of just a year ago is still palpable. It is almost as if she is a living dream, all of my hopes and fears wrapped up in a living, breathing flourish of pink and ringlets.
And Avery? Oh, my sweet petunia, so vibrant and hardy, open for all the loving and living you could ever imagine, but her petals whisper soft and her scent the whole of all my happiest moments. She is moving with the athleticism of a child much older, her words catch me by surprise, literally conversations, these words we share. She has risen above the cajoling and coaxing we were guilty of and forged her own beautiful relationship with her sister, both giving chase and taking breaks. What they have is so much better than anything we could have constructed. Such a bittersweet lesson, they really do surpass us, with their wisdom and strength, and of course their beauty. Physically Avery is sprinting as well, taller and slimmer each day, and each night the teeth make their ferocious march, pressing against her gums until she yelps and moans. I jump, perhaps a little too fast, to go to her. We reach for each other in the dark, and there in the embrace of her plush, squat reading chair, we find solace in one another.
I kiss her brow and stroke her back while she nurses, pausing every so often to raise her gaze to meet my own and whisper, “Back, Mama” and then she returns to suckling with a contented sigh, her eyes slipping down drunkenly. Some nights I hold on, enjoying the slower flow of time. Eventually sleep’s call is too great, and I lower her back into her crib, her arms immediately reaching for her babies, my own feeling a little less empty as she sleeps in her crib, still a baby.
The other morning as I walked with Briar down the stairs she stopped. Mild annoyance passed over me as she pulled back toward the top of the stairs. She scampered up to the landing and bent down to pick something up off the hardwood floor.
“What is it, baby?”
“Look, mama.” She said again as she walked over and pressed her face between the spindles of the banister. She stretched her hand toward me, little bits of dirt still under her nails from playing in the backyard.
“What’s that, sweetie?”
“Look, mama. It’s still a clover.”
And there in her hand I saw a clover, dried and curled from sitting in the sun since she’d brought it home from a walk a couple of days earlier. I looked up at her, she was backlit in sunlight streaming through an eastern facing window. Her shoulder poked out from beneath her Cinderella nightgown and her legs were turned out in the universal squat reserved for three year old knees.
“Do you see, mama? Do you see it’s still a clover?” Her face was intense, my affirmative answer something that she seemed to be dying for. I looked at the clover again. It was slightly yellowed and brittle, but I could still see the clover, still hear the gentle snap as she picked it. Looking back at Briar I suddenly saw the answer I had so desperately been seeking myself.
She is still my baby, my sweet clover.
“Yes, baby, I see it. It really is still a clover.” I whispered.
“You want it, mama? You want my clover for you?” She asked leaping around to the stairs.
“Honey, I can’t think of anything I’d like more. Thank you.” I smiled as I took the hand she offered.
“I love you, mom.”
Aww, now I'm bawling. So tender, your love for those girls.
Still a clover, indeed. I'll try to remember this the next time The Poo goes pee-pee in the potty.
very sweet, and beautifully written
So beautiful, your words.
I love the passage where you describe nursing Avery in the night. I just returned from putting Elyse down for her nap, during which I was writing a post in my head about how the process has changed from something so sweet and serene to her being Bossy McBossyPants.
She's still my baby, though. They all are, gangly limbs, and all.
My two fell asleep in the car last night, on the way home from a day at the beach, and at one point they were identical profiles, both facing in the same direction, Pie with her cheeks still chubby with baby-fat, and Bub lean and boyish. Yup – he's only three and I am feeling that pang of lost youth.
I remember a point where I could look at my babies faces and still see baby, but also see forward to 'child'. The softness of baby features vs the leaner more angular features of an older child.
Now I have to keep their slide show on my blog to see the babies anymore.
I'm glad you are enjoying every moment so well.
Now you've gone and made me cry. Your words just so beautiful… but also really bringing into clarity how I feel myself about Zoe. Now where are those tissues?
Oh Amanda. This was just perfect
this was amazing. really amazing. makes my heart ache a little as i tuck my two little ones in their beds.
and thank you so much for helping with my clog design–you rock!
This is truly a beautiful post Amanda. How you capture the magic of your girls in such articulated and tender moments amazes me. I am so glad I got to share a little time with them yesterday, they are splendid, and it made my afternoon.
What a beautiful set of girls and a mom you all are. You are each as special as the one beside you.
oh honey. how absolutely lovely is this?
There is something about that lush, fat, ripeness of babyhood that IS difficult to leave behind. My 4-year old, she's still little, but all gangly limbs now, long and lean, mature in her tastes and conversation. My little one is almost 2, and just this evening, my husband and I sat bemoaning this, as if this next milestone is something heartbreaking instead of delightful.
I get this. (And I didn't think anything could make me pine for night-nursing again, but you've done it!)
That was beautiful – you have me in tears.
Beautifully written & so descriptive of the tenderness of childhood.
Now I'm wondering if my children were ever so sweet and innocent and yummy. I'm sure they were, it was just too long ago to remember and if I'd been blogging then I might have been smart enough to record a little gem like this.
You've just turned us into a blubbering mess of mamas! So, so, sweet!
So incredibly sweet and lovely, she will always be your baby. Moments like those you wish you could record and play again and again on tough days. Thank you for visiting and commenting, I really appreciate it.
This is why some people continue having children, in my opinion, up to 10, 14, 17… because it's so hard to watch them grow up! 🙂
Oh. This post literally made me sigh with contentment (that they are getting to be big boyz) yet yearning (that they stay little momma's boyz forever and ever.)
And what's not to love about a chubby and baby-like toddler body? Scrumptious!
Oh, thank you. Thank you! for this. I will remember…still a clover…when I see my Beans dancing around in their boot cut jeans.
(I didn't mean for this comment to sound like a country song!)
"It is almost as if she is a living dream, all of my hopes and fears wrapped up in a living, breathing flourish of pink and ringlets."
Oh Phooey on you Amanda. Now I am crying. This was beautiful. And heartbreaking.
Gotta link it.
Your words. Then and now… so lovely, so stunning.