Time is precious these days. I have less of it to spend with my babies due to some unforeseen circumstances in our lives. I don't like it. I miss my babies. It's ironic considering that not all that long ago I couldn't wait for Dear Husband to get home from work to take the kids off my hands and give me a break from them.
I had the entire morning and afternoon to spend with them today, and I treasured it. I decided to break with the routine (as if there really is a routine these days) and put our usual school work lower on the priority list today. It's a rainy, windy day. I hadn't taken my kids to the library in quite some time as I’d been too busy. I'd exhausted all of my book renewals online while I stalled for the time to return the items in person.
Before we'd even had breakfast this morning, I suggested to the kids that we go to the "big library" where we could check out books and videos and play computer games and run and climb in the "hippo park" (if we didn’t get rained out) and do puzzles and, and, and... Then we would stop for a few groceries, and I would pack the cold items in insulated bags so that we could end our excursion with a Happy Meal. Dear Son loves him a Happy Meal. He can't wait for the toy, which is evidence that McD’s marketing strategies work like a charm.
Before we left the house, I pulled a long sleeve t-shirt out of Dear Daughter's closet. I've begun pulling clothes out of storage from last season as the weather turns colder. Dear Daughter has outgrown most of her wardrobe. I asked her to try on the shirt and expected that her belly would hang out of it like every other shirt I have pulled out of storage this fall. I couldn't help but notice that not only did her belly hang out of her shirt, but her ankles also stuck out of her pant legs. My stomach turned as I saw my baby disappearing before my eyes.
Every once in awhile, as I tote the wee ones around in the family mobile to run errands with me, I peek in the rearview mirror at their charming impish faces, round and baby-ish, and my breath catches in my chest as I feel overwhelmed with how richly my life is blessed. We bounce along the road, their curiously blond little heads swaying with the movement of the vehicle as they stare obliviously out of their respective windows at the scenery. It is all I can do not to impulsively pull over on the shoulder of the road and scoop them into my arm and hold them close.
The library was full of little ones today, all about 1.5 years of age. Some toddled about as if they had just learned to walk yesterday. I watched my Dear Daughter running around them in the Hippo play yard. She was the oldest, by far, among the children playing. I brought her to the same Hippo play yard when she was barely toddling about just as the others were doing today. I was sitting in the very spot on the very bench where I have sat countless times over the past five years. My mind raced with memories as if a movie were playing out in fast forward motion. The images were of Daughter toddling about the play yard uncertainly, requiring my help to pick her up and place her on the hippos to sit, my belly swollen with the impending arrival of her little brother, nursing her little brother discreetly as she climbed and played happily among the hippos. How did those days blur so quickly into where we are today?
Later, as we drove along in the family mobile to get their Happy Meals, the wee ones couldn’t have looked any more pleased with the world. I refused to allow my mind to race five more years into the future and wonder upon how quickly it would go, and yet I felt my eyes grow teary as I thought about my firstborn growing out of her clothing, and my second born forgoing his naps as if he has decided he is too big for this anymore. I ruefully quipped aloud, “My babies are growing up way too fast!” Dear Son never broke his gaze from the window as he quietly responded, “Yes, we are." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry while we drove the rest of the way in bittersweet silence.