Seems like each day moves with greater speed, my ability to see the moments without blurred edges grows ever more difficult. I am trying, with the gentle counsel of friends like Janet to approach life with three kids with less guilt, less expectations of perfection (Ha!) from myself.

The other night Sean had taken Briar and Avery out on the porch to watch a passing storm, once it was on its way to the next town he led the girls upstairs. He took my laptop to set them up for a little pre-bedtime Curious George, while I rocked Finley in the nursery. I listened to him talking to them, the girls chirping questions and squealing with exclaims over this little thing and that, their nightly dance to bedtime.

He popped his head in the door and let me know he was going downstairs to lock up. My shoulders loosened as Finley melted into me, her lips pressing against my neck and the steady rhythm of her breath like a gentle march upon my soul, I am here, always a part of you. The muffled sounds of the girls talking down the hall dusted the moment with a kind of completion, three daughters, needing me and not. A husband, shadowing me, close enough to take the weight at any given moment. I curled up in the moment, deliciously unhurried.

When I opened my eyes it was quiet, there were no floorboards creaking, no little voices traveling down the hall. I lifted myself from the chair, Finley’s sleeping form warm against mine in the cool air conditioning, and crept to the hallway. I expected to see the girls in their room, but it was empty, I turned and saw light spilling from our room.

They were on their stomachs, heads propped in their hands and feet absentmindedly kicked up behind them, Avery’s wide paddle feet were dirty and leaning against Briar’s pale calf. The laptop was at the foot of our bed and the air positively crackled with up-past-their-bedtime-delight, one of Briar’s leg was singing to and fro and Avery had a hand alongside the laptop, as if it moved the spell might be broken.

A smile spread across my face as I remembered the bliss of sneaking past the bedtime hour, the thrill of conning mom and dad. There weren’t laptops or portable dvd players when I was a kid, but it crossed my mind that if there had been the idea of watching something in this way would have been about as amazing a thing as I could have hoped for.

Briar’s leg stopped swinging and her head popped up intuitively. She felt me watching her, and as her head turned and she saw me, a guilty smile blossomed over her face. I smiled back and whispered, “I was watching you.” She grinned even wider in response and turned back to the show with a giggle. Avery turned at the sound and smiled at me too, “We watchin’ George, mama!”

After so many weeks of blurry days and foggy nights I felt something with crystal clear authenticity, this moment and this night would live on in them. As they grow and perhaps even when they stand in the hallway watching their own children, they’ll smile remembering the stormy night that they stayed up watching a movie on mom and dad’s bed. We are a part of you, sweet girls.