March 6th, 2006

motherhood

HOLD STILL!

Right now, right this minute, I do not wish for a happy future for my children. I don't want them to grow up and older and move away and marry and have children of their own and live happy lives far into a future where I no longer exist.

No. Don't move, I think. Don't grow...stay right where you are.

Right now, right this minute, I am indulging in the most selfish selfishness possible: I want to stop time from fleeting and KEEP them as they are RIGHT now. What was I talking about yesterday? The beauty of the ephemeral? The hell with that! Let my children stay this age, this wonderful age. Let their skin always be rosy and glowing with health and vigor, let their eyes always sparkle with laughter and learning, this time when all the jokes are new, and everything is still out there, waiting just for them.

It's such a transitory moment, this age. When they are becoming independent, yet still need me. When they can run and play and dress themselves, but still come for hugs and holding and kissing. When it's still okay to sit in my lap, and sing little songs with me, and let me read to them, and put their arms up for goodnight embraces and tuckings-in. They're like bright comets I cannot hold. Fiery-tailed stars whizzing past. We lit those lamps and now they're moving away from us, from me, and the light follows. I follow too, a helpless moth.

They don't know the reason I hug them a little too hard, and hold them a little too long, is because I'm trying to keep them there, to keep them safe, to keep them mine. When they squirm I force my arms to let them go and I wave with a cheerful smile as they skip away to play, to sleep, to grow. Oh! They are so beautiful! So funny and brave and bright!

I spend all my time at memorizing: the hollow at the base of my daughter's throat, the way my son's eyelashes sweep the curve of his cheeks as he sleeps. The monkey grimaces Karin produces so rapidly and effortlessly that leave us doubled over, breathless with laughter. The fierce joy and concentration Martin brings to every thing he does; his thirst for knowledge and creativity. The tiny freckle at the base of her foot, her rubbly-bubbly bellybutton. The way his dimple flashes in and out; morse code for smile, and his giggle that launches mine every time.

Conversations on the Couch:

*After ticklefight and cuddling, Martin and I are sitting at opposite ends of the sofa, trying to stick our feet in each other's faces*
Liz: Smell my feet! Muahahaha!
Martin: Pee-ew! Don't put your smelly feet in my face! That's unrespectable!
Liz: You mean dis-respectful.
Martin: *in perfect teenager* Whatever.

*After bouncing up and down on my head for several minutes, trying to kiss my hand, trying to tickle me, trying to stick her finger up her nose and then wipe it on me while laughing maniacally*
Karin: Can't we just calm down and be still for a bit?
Liz: *shocked & disbelieving* Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?!
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