It’s been coming for a while now, though I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it. It’s sinew in the musculature I’ve acquired through 10 years of parenting and writing. It’s a taut bit that pulls at me, keeping me from going as far as I might want in a certain direction. The other night as we crested the bluff near the summit, I looked away from the smattering of twinkling lights that are our little town and I turned instead to the back side of the mountain.
I looked at the trees and drank in the colors of the sunset, the familiar pinks, purples, and blues of so many pictures that we’ve pinned to the wall or tucked away between the pages of cherished books. I looked over at Sean and felt my shoulders slip, wiggling out of the tense clothes hanger line that they so swiftly settle into at some blurry moment between racing to the bus stop and sitting down to my desk at work. He’d pushed for us to squeeze in a few runs; I’d lobbied to get the driveway cleared. We’d split the difference and done most of the driveway before heading to the mountain.
I second guessed the decision until halfway up the lift. It was just us. The film of guilt that so often sullies grown-up time, the indefatigable sensation that I am doing something other than what I ought to, was completely absent. Our legs swung as the lift gently rocked, my eyes stung as we emerged from the cover of trees and the wind hit. The smile of a dozen summers broke across my face as the air reminded me of poking my face out the window and of throwing my mouth wide open, allowing the gusts of wind to rattle my face and make sounds as they rushed inside.
Pushing off the chair, we headed for the trail and I felt the understanding sink in—our stories are changing, just as teeth are being lost and crushes are being lit, the rhythm of how we sway in the wake of our own momentum is new. Briar and I have talks at bedtime, the lights turned out, her sisters tucked away in their own room, we conspire—to learn, to laugh, and to begin the startling and exquisite journey to a place where the way she needs me is different, less predictable.
The times when all three girls are in agreement seem less, yet they have certain things that fuse them together. I am devouring all of it, while realizing that there are shadows cropping up, plumes of warning.
I cannot share every story and I cannot be present for every moment. We were supposed to get to this moment, despite the lump in my throat, at their ascent and my own racing heart; this is good. My clench is slowing to a pulse, allowing me moments of letting go—
“Sure, you can take a run without us, but please stay together,” I call to them as they disappear into the blur of neon ski coats, the other words about being super careful and not crashing into a tree fade at the back of my throat. They are letting go too.
We revisit before together, “Mama, ‘member how I used to always be in your arms?” Finley whispers as she strokes my face at bedtime.
“Yes, of course I do. You want to know a secret?” I ask. She nods.
“You are still there. That sweet, little Fin that you were, she’s always going to be in my arms. We get to keep each other together when we remember.”
“So even when I’m growed up and move away, but maybe not ’cause I might want to live with you and dad forever, I’ll still be with you in my baby time?”
“Exactly.” She sighs contentedly. I wrap my arms around her forever.
This is stunning, and heartbreakingly rings true for me as a mother… I am sure I am not alone. xoxo
Jamie, thank you so much. The drawing you shared made me gasp and squeal. xo
Que disfrutes mucho de estos momentos. Nunca se olvidan.
Gracias. A veces olvido y corre todo el dia, pero hay momentos cuando as tan claro lo que tengo que hacer por my corazon y las de ellas. Gracias!
I love your posts so much. Thank you for writing what is true and for doing it so amazingly well.
Twice today you’ve made me smile. Thank you!
Aaaaand now I’m crying. My girl’s only four, but I tell her often that no matter how big she gets she’ll always be my tiny perfect baby (she was a 3lb 4oz preemie with, miraculously, no health problems). Most of the time I’m ok with the process of growing up and branching out, but it’s the moments where she admits to being sad or scared that break me.
They do break us over and over again, don’t they? They make us stronger and more in touch with beauty as well. Hugs.
Swoon. Exactly. Astrid says “bemember” instead of “remember” and I want to tell her to say in like that forever. Because that’s how I’ll always bemember her as the baby.
I have to meet Astrid someday!
Oh yes, how any of us with no-longer-babies can connect to this moment and this feeling you’re describing. My 5-year-old loves to hear about “when she was a little girl.” It’s such a sweet description and a sweet request.
Nothing like reminiscing with littles 🙂
Also love the new look here!
What a gorgeous writer you are, Amanda! I have immediately warmed to you. Thank you for letting me know you existed – I will be back for more! x
Right back at you, Deb!