Once upon a time I hated the input. I would tense each time I felt their eyes on me, anticipating the, “Oh, don’t waste a minute,” and “One day you won’t be so excited,” and on and on. My experience was sacred. my emotions my own, the first of their kind.

Five years later I understand my place a bit more. I know that while my feelings are sacred, there is a thread that runs through us all, an unstoppable, unavoidable, unforgiving truth. I know that the grizzled checker and the overly-perfumed, touchy-feely woman at the store both know my path.

It does go fast. Mercilessly so.

I am as aware of the inevitability of my aging and death, as I am of my children’s growing up and moving on. I am sick with obsession and protest, running from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button all the while turning Darius Rucker on auto-repeat. I cannot make up my mind, and I suppose in some ways I am grateful for that. I think to accept the fleetingness of it all would be tragic, but so too would be the constant hand wringing.

I find myself each day having a new perspective on my performance—

I am failing, working too many hours and saying no to Play Doh.

I am awesome: organic food, bedtime stories and slow dancing with dad.

I yelled. I loathe myself.

I managed the stroller, scooter, bike and babies. Park, bath and cuddles.

Other times I am almost divided, wishing I could just work or just parent. Or, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, just laze about. I think this moment in time of being ashamed of professional aspirations and sheepish about stay-at-home envy has got to be the zenith of my discomfiture. Or maybe it’s not.

Maybe what they say about the teen years is worse. The angst and constant battle of wills.

Or maybe it’s the post teen years of perceived obsolescence.

What I know tonight is that despite how easy it is to forget things, I remember Briar’s first laugh on Christmas Eve.

I remember Avery touching me and saying, “You my Manda?”

And I am hearing Finley say as she pulls away from a third kiss, “Ayyy yawve ooo.”

I am letting go of not signing up for dance class and for being late for check-ups.

I am finding a way to tell Sean that I miss being a couple.

I beginning to understand how different and precious my relationships with each girl are.

And, I am passing through these days, each rife with their own bliss and agony, like an automobile on a coastal highway at daybreak, marveling at the beauty of the fog, all the while hoping its unchangeable inconsistent ways don’t trip me up.

If I were to die tomorrow, which I desperately hope I won’t, but know that I could, I hope they know two things*: How very much I love them and how hard I tried not to screw up.

*When they are teenagers I am going to read this and pretend they said it.