Crocuses spring from the bleakest pockets of our yard, brilliant flashes of purple and white unexpectedly punctuating dark corners with cheer. The girls are like that, taking the most mundane moments and infusing them with a joy and passion that steals my breath. On walks they exclaim over planes and the song of an unseen bird. They laugh hysterically over the neighborhood cats lolling about beneath cars. My resting face is a smile when I am with them and, when I am not, I can capture their zest, laughing at my reflection in the window of a parked car, or seeing the preciousness of someone’s child in the grizzled face of the man behind me at the bank.

I find myself deliciously conflicted, anxiously anticipating the arrival of another, while desperately clinging to this moment in time. Briar’s discovery of self, asserting opinions, demanding independence and staking her claim as first born, older sister and resident princess. Avery hovers, as strong and swift as a hummingbird, one moment quivering with “do it myself” adamance and the next alighting upon one of us and clinging, melting back into the baby she was, all dark hair, piercing eyes and plump lips. I want to live suspended in this time of exploration and wonder, swirling limbs tickling my insides and husky voices caressing and coaxing me from sun up through bed time.

Sitting here today I know with certainty that this is my moment, like Charlotte preparing her web, I am at the central moment of my life. I shepherd the girls with a gentle touch, allowing them to press forward, creating a lead that will one day achieve a distance that extends beyond my reach, the only tether the trust we’ve built. And as their shadows grow taller, their faces ever leaner, a sister grows inside of me, her own independence and will already rivaling that of her sisters. Never in my life have I felt so completely attuned to what was meant for me.

And so, I wait, beside and behind the girls, one hand on my belly, a lump in my throat and a resounding sense of peace, a celebratory exclamation in my soul, like the crocuses at our feet.