Note pads gather dust, the camera sits more than it flashes and the dates on my blog entries grow further and further apart. I suppose the stereotypes about first, middle and last babies are true in some respects, but this morning as I swayed with Finley in my arms I felt a different truth.
I pressed my fingers into the dimples on her left elbow as she koala-beared on my chest, knees squeezing my sides, feet pushing against my back and fingers wrapped around my shoulders; a perfect embrace. She turned her face from one side to the other, burying her cheeks in my neck like a cool pillow in the middle of summer. Every so often she popped her head up and turned, checking her reflection in the mirror and kicking with delight.
She devours her time alone with me unapologetically and I can I see my own bliss reflected back in her eyes. This bond is different, it is not being painstakingly recorded or photographically captured in the same way that we did with Briar or with Avery. It is like a later love affair, after the capricious flings built on lust or convenience, beyond the step-by-step patterns of should-do’s and ought-to’s. It is the real thing.
This isn’t to say that Briar and Avery weren’t, these girls are the fruits of my greatest love. They are the results of the mistakes I made along the way. The wrong boys, the bad decisions, the heartache and the searching. They are the rewards for loving completely and without fear—the paradise I landed in after leaping.
Finley often pulls her head back, lifting her body off mine and craning back until her eyes are locked with mine. She waits, eyes wide and lips parted, before kicking her feet and exclaiming, “Uh bah mwaah!” and planting a massive, open mouth kiss on me. Her face launches into my neck again for a full body embrace and then she is back again.
She looks at me with great excitement and says, “Uh-bss, uh-bss, uh-bssah, uh-bssst!” I say it back and she nods and kicks with joyous satisfaction, affirmation. “Bssuh, bssuh, bssuh!” I lose myself in the shine of her lips as her tongue zips out to make the sounds. The pads of her fingers are the softest thing I’ve ever felt and I memorize the path they take as she pats my shoulders.
Avery and Briar circle as, pushing strollers, proffering baby dolls and jousting with Barbies. My life literally swirls around me from the moment I wake until my head finally touches the pillow at night. I find the rhythm of our days beginning to wear a perfectly smooth track along my core. It is challenging and exhausting, but the wake of this life, the rigors of caretaking and teaching, loving and disciplining are life-sustaining. The moment I begin to feel weary I see a new sparkle in the girls, a discovered ability or mastered skill and in each I can see myself, a legacy.
I don’t know if the lapse in writing is allowing the girls to tell and me to live these most recent pages or if it is an unwillingness to pause for fear of missing something. Either way, despite knowing that I’ll forget certain things, I am certain that this moment in time with Finley easily walking, Briar standing more often than not with her hands on her hips aching to be a big girl and Avery embodying all that is magic and impossible on the cusp of three, will travel with me until all that is left of me is my place in their hearts and memories as mom.
I will try to chronicle more so that they have it as I saw it to layer upon their own memories, but my first and most enduring promise is to live as fully within each moment with them as I can.
Bri, Ave, Fin you are my exquisite everything.