In July of 2011, Tessa Jo was born and our band became a permanent Party of 4. And now suddenly it all makes sense why people call their sixteen-old the "baby of the family" or say their "baby got married" or next year their "baby leaves for college."
My baby just turned three. If you talk to her for five minutes, she'll tell you all about where she travelled this summer and where her cousins live and how her nay-vors have chickens and the sad tale of our cats and why the tomatoes aren't growing this year.
She needs budspray and sunscream before she goes outside.
She's been so excited to turn fwee so she can go to ballet class.
She belts out Let It Go as she rides in the van.
She hates it when people call her little because, gosh darn it, she is BIG with a BIG girl bed and a froggy potty seat (that is more of an ideal than a reality) and little girls do not do BIG things like her.
And all I can do is shake my head as I watch her troop out the back door with her siblings.
All I can do is smile as I look out my small kitchen window and watch her carrying a chicken across the yard.
All I can do is wonder where the days are going, worry that I might be missing them, and then tell myself that all I can really do is smile at these littles as the moments pass by.
There is no way to freeze time, no way to have days back. And would I really want those days back? I don't know. But I can't help feel like something is lost, gone, slipped away, and if I could enjoy it one more time, I would.
But here we are, heading into a school year with kids in 4th grade, second grade, kindergarten, and preschool. The baby items are disappearing but the days are ever busy. They need me less- they can put on their shoes (though not on the right feet, ahem, my daughters!) and spoon their own cereal and brush their teeth. They can function a whole morning, lost in the delight of the back yard.
But in some ways they need me more. They ask, "Why should I obey?" and "Where is heaven?" and "What is inside electricity?" and "Why don't you get a job?" and "Why can't the sky just stay sunset forever?" And they ask about kindness and their own design and the shape of their fears comes trickling out. They sense that we're walking to our own drum, that they aren't getting on a school bus or going to a church building or living a life that matches what they see on bits of TV.
And they wonder and I wonder and I try not to worry or chase time or hoard moments.
I try to be. Here. With them. Be here in the moments that truly are our good 'ol days.
It's been a bumpy summer for me, friends. I've drifted, not in some sort of profound drifting away from ideals, but more of life on a raft instead of life on a motor boat. I like to think I generally have direction, a little bit of power, an ability to steer my life against the waves. But this summer has left me feeling I got nothing.
"I think I'm broken," I told my husband this morning.
"Good," he said, smiling sleepy at me, "that's a good place to start."
This time slipping by, it reminds me afresh of my smallness, of my inability to hold on and hold in and hold out. Moments are passing, and I don't need to control them or cement them or even do anything crazy to make them better. I can only cherish them, watch them slip by, smile sleepy from my own brokenness, choose to be present in it all.
So here we are. The baby who's not a baby. The summer that isn't much of a summer left. The school year upon us and the fall approaching and a long list of "Things I'll Get to This Summer" that I can just reuse for next year. Time is both my friend and my enemy, my ally and my nemesis.
But we're still here, and it's still barely summer, and we'll try to watch these last summer evenings linger.
|Happy Birthday, Tessa Jo.|