Thursday, July 7, 2011

Look Back at Me

Our one car was in the shop today. This meant that after weeks of nearly ceaseless activity, we had a day of going absolutely nowhere beyond the neighborhood pool. This was quite wonderful, really -- enforced, temporary withdrawal from the outside world. And two things happened as a result:

1. Ian -- almost eleven years old -- had to ride his bike to swim team practice. This involves a 1.5 mile ride each way, crossing a major street. Daddy practiced the route with him the night before, I escorted him to the intersection and saw him safely across on the journey out, and he called me on his cell phone when arriving at and leaving the pool. (Yes, he has a bare-bones cell phone. It became a necessity when we let our land line go.) 

He was apprehensive. So was I, although I didn't say so. But he did it. And tomorrow will be easier. In a summer of milestones, we've made another crossing. Hooray!

2. Walking home from the pool like little frying ants under the sun's determined glare, Caroline asked me to carry her. Now, she's five. A bit old to be toted like a baby, don't you think? A sardonic "You've got legs!" was on the tip of my tongue.

But I leaned down, scooped her up, and told her how far I could carry her. "Okay, Mama," she agreed. She wrapped her damp arms around my neck, laid her bleach-blonde head on my shoulder, and gently kissed it. And just for a moment, on the same day that one child took a leap forward, another one made time stand still.

Was it the last time I'll carry her like that -- even just for fifty yards? That's the bittersweetness of watching them grow and letting them go -- while some milestones arrive with great fanfare, many simply whisper their way in and out, so that we only know in retrospect that that moment -- photographed if we're lucky, but more likely not -- was a goodbye. And we wave at their disappearing smoke trail, knowing that their future looks too bright for them to ever think of looking back.


Amy Tague said...

You need to put a little warning at the beginning of posts like these so I'll know to get my tissues before I start reading. So absolutely beautiful. <3

Sarah Chappelle said...

So sweet!! And yes, tissues required. :)

Rebecca Bean said...

My favorite post yet. What a sweet reminder to truly care for our loved ones.

cjoy said...

Uh, yeah. . .warnings please. As usual, you say what is felt so beautifully.

Raji P. said...

*sniff sniff*

Barb said...

I got tears in my eyes at this. I wrote a column one time about not being able to remember the last time I carried my older daughter around. I was so determined to remember when my younger daughter grew out of being carried.

But I don't.

Julie said... heart! Makes us always remember to never take a second for granted!