Wednesday, October 17, 2007

These Days

Remember that heartbreakingly poignant essay by Anna Quindlen that my friend Jordan wrote about on her blog awhile back, "All My Babies are Gone Now"? I was reminded of it today.

The girls and I were running errands, and I took them to the post office. While waiting in line, we met a nice woman behind us, who was charmed by Julia's identifying each letter in the "Caution: Wet Floor" sign and by Genevieve's overall 14-month-old adorableness. She guessed their ages correctly, and said, "I remember so well when my kids were that age." I asked her how old her children are now, and she surprised me by telling me they are young adults, in their late teens and early twenties. She said that this--my girls' age--was her favorite age, that she'd relive it all if she could.

"I believe it," I told her. "It can be so hard, but I just love having a one-year-old and a three-year-old. Every day I think about how fast it's all going by and how special these days really are."

As we stepped up for our turn in line, the woman said to me--not morosely, just with a sweet, poignant awareness that comes with having parented babies and small children and then having watched them leave their babyness behind--, "Those days were the best of my life."

I thought about this chance encounter all morning, as we left the post office and went to Target, as we ate our lunch and played "farm" before nap. This was a good morning, one of those "easy" days. No one had a meltdown, no diapers exploded at the store, the baby napped. No one's teething, no one ingested any crayons, everyone's cooperating and in a good mood. It's an easy day for appreciating how precious one- and three-year-old sisters are; it's easy to believe that a kind, friendly woman at the post office really was the happiest and most fulfilled in her life when her children were babies and toddlers together, that she'd look at her grown kids and adore them, of course, but also gaze at the baby pictures and think, "I wish I could remember everything about that day, when those honeys were babies," just like Anna Quindlen suggests.

On the hardest days, I try really hard to remember these things. If this had been one of the hardest days, surely my conversation with the woman at the post office would have moved me to tears--to be reminded of something so true, and something so in need of remembering. But I don't think a day goes by--not the hard, desperate days and not the so-called easy ones either--that I don't know, don't feel in my bones and in my heart, that you don't get much luckier than having two tiny girls, ages one and three. And to spend every day with them, to squeeze every moment out of this time--this blink-of-an-eye time!--is something for which I will always be grateful. One day they will be young adults, college students, and though I know they will be delightful, brilliant women, interesting and cherished in all their adult-ness too, if I happen upon two tiny sisters in the grocery store or the bank, in chenille jackets with flowers and pink hats, holding hands, one with the chubby round cheeks of babyhood and the other just barely beyond? I'm pretty sure I'll smile and shake my head wistfully and start telling that mama how wonderful it all is.

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