Wednesday, July 2, 2008

coming full circle



I had a dream last night, that I nursed Lizzie until she went to college. I know. Sounds a little creepy, I agree.

When I awoke this morning, pink pre-sun tones were bleeding into the deep hues of blue night. Lizzie was stirring beside me, her mouth, still so bird-like, opening and closing in a half-asleep search. Gently, I pulled her to me and watched the sun rise from the eastern hills in front of our house, happy as she slurped and suckled that for now, we are still in that other dimension known as infant and mother.

Maybe it is because I am (pretty certain anyway) that Lizzie is my last baby, I feel so very aware of how fast time slips by, even in the abyss/black hole/exhaustion/delirious nature of having a newborn. Every milestone Lizzie reaches is so bittersweet (except when she slept through the night—I was all alleluia over that one). Her first smile, her first laugh, the way she has settled into the routine of grabbing the necklace I wear everyday as she nurses; all of these moments bring great joy, but also that feeling of being the last time I experience my own baby’s firsts.

The necklace that Lizzie has taken to playing with as she eats was a gift from my friend Alison. It has three small silver circles, each bearing the name of one of my children. Alison gave me the necklace just before Lizzie’s birth, but at the time, I wore only Noah and Max. A circle with a simply stamped heart hung in the place that soon would belong to my daughter. When we brought her home, so small and new, still curled in my lap like she was in the womb, Alison brought Lizzie’s circle to me. We sat together on the couch as she laced it through the chain, between the names of her brothers. Alison put the heart on a chain of its own, which I put away for Lizzie to have someday. The two of us, quiet on the couch, leaned in toward this new being with complete adoration.

And then, Lizzie woke. Bleating hunger cries followed, as did my groan and quick inhale as she latched on to a very engorged, cracked, raw me. It was grey and snowy outside, and my hormones had me weeping again—as I had taken to doing with every sideways glance or needy older child yelp or well, basically anything. I’ll never get through this thing called having three kids, I said to Alison in doe-eyed panic.

She smiled and said something to the effect of “yes you will, because this part doesn’t last…if it did, nobody would procreate.”

I thought about that as I tucked soft baby hairs behind Lizzie’s ears in the dawn light. It has been almost five months since her birth and while she is still so young—and in a phase that is all consuming—I can’t help wanting to freeze us in this moment. It only takes the thump, patter, patter, patter of morning footsteps from the bedrooms above to understand how fast time disappears.

Noah is nine now, the sounds of his waking and walking far less clumsy than that of Max, who tumbles out of bed with animated energy that is year three. Both boys make their way into the bedroom and curl up on either side of Lizzie and I. Noah brings his latest 300-plus-page book about heroes, myths, magic or dragons and settles in without a word. Max clambers up with his sippy cup hanging from his mouth and The B trailing behind him. He plants sloppy kisses on us both and then hops up to start doing 360’s onto the floor.

I feel so full with happiness at this scene, aware of each stage of life I’m witnessing through the lens of a mother (even though sometimes I have to remind myself, yes, that mother is me). I want to make time stand still. In this second, I want my children to be these children—the ones who will be a day closer to leaving my nest when they settle into their beds tonight-- forever.

Don’t mistake me: I am sill so far from the earth mama who never has a day of non-existent patience or near neurotic nagging. And I’ve been known to fantasize plenty about the day when Justin and I can sail off into the Caribbean sunset, only to send grown children postcards while sipping from a second bottle of red wine. It’s just that sometimes it hits me—how small this time is in the greater scheme of life—and it makes me want to slow down, to ignore the minefield of Legos, turn off the phones, and leave the laundry in a heap. It makes me want to laugh, long and loud with my boys, nuzzle quietly with my baby, and simply be grateful that when she reaches up for my necklace, she has three circles to grab onto.

3 comments:

Zach said...

That is a cute picture of Lizzie.

martha h. bowman said...

kate,
your entries have reminded me to savor the moments with my little girl. good reminder that time escapes us too easily and enjoy the simple activities together.
loved reading it, keep it up!
mh.bowman

Swistle said...

That is such a pretty necklace.

I found I appreciated my most recent baby's newbornness so much more because I wasn't expecting him: I'd thought we were done, and I was so, so happy to get another---especially after the twins, who made me too busy to fully appreciate their tiny days.