Today began as the definition of fall. Gray skies, soft rain spatter, wind chimes dancing in the breeze, and colorful leaves dropping to the ground. Our 21-month-old woke around 6:30, and I carried her back into bed with me. I snuggled against her soft, still-a-baby, sleep-floppy, body that somehow cranks out the heat of a space heater set to "high." Cocooned together against the coming of the day, we breathed in tandem.
It lasted two minutes and then she was ready to go, but those two minutes were all my heart needed to prepare for the coming day. For those two minutes, absolutely anything was possible and love was absolute. One day, my momminess will not be enough to keep the world at bay, will not be able to heal everything with a kiss, will not be needed for the cuddles. One day my daughter will be too grown up. But for now, I will gather every small moment I can.
Soon, all the children were awake, cozied in PJs, watching their 'toons as I made waffles and eggs, potatoes, and hot chocolate. It was that kind of morning. Slow and lazy with cheers about melty marshmallows swimming in warm mugs. Sleep-tousled heads, brown mustaches, silly chatter.
Calm breakfast lasted about five minutes. But those five minutes were all I needed for my heart to prepare for the rest of the day. For those five minutes, the entire world was within my grasp and hope for the future was guaranteed. I saw my children interact. They asked each other questions and made up funny stories. Some day, they will not be living under the same roof. Their companionship will be changed. I will not be there as a fellow cohort, peacemaker, or rule enforcer. They will be on their own. But for now, I will hold their innocence and sibling-friendship close in my mind.
It was definitely a day for burrowing under blankets next to the fireplace--which is exactly where I read to my eldest. It didn't last as long as I wanted; my body betrayed me and my eyes grew heavy and my tongued became slow and jumbley. Too comfy for my own good. My daughter laughed at me, falling asleep with words trying to fall from my lips.
But it was time enough, and all the time I needed for my heart to prepare for the evening ahead. Because, for those heartbeats of adventure through the written word, lifetimes intertwined and generations grew closer. The tradition of parent-reading-to-child continued for at least one more day. It will not always be like this. Already thirteen, she will not always want me to voice the words she can read easily on her own. But for now, I will look at my daughter and see the shadows of life-past and life-yet-to-come and know that now is right where we should be.
As the evening winds held their breath, the sun blazed through, and the boys discovered the joy of playing in the fallen leaves. Rakes and brooms and belly flops. Laughter and yells. While making sure they each stuck to the rules of taking turns, they told Miss O she could jump whenever she chose. Diplomacy, chivalry, and wild, crazy fun.
And then it was done, time to go inside. But while it lasted, my heart was strengthened for the coming of a new day. While it lasted, memories were cemented in wide-open minds, dreams were born, and the noble-hearted ruled the world. The future will not always hold piles of fallen leaves and laughter hanging on the tail-end of an autumnal gust of air. Life will continue and children will grow. But for now, I choose to bear witness to what is good and right. Be the memory-keeper of the fleeting moments of time, where a blink can change the colors in front of my eyes. I will hold onto these children and tuck their light into my soul. I will do my best by them, for when "someday" melts into "now" and the fall days are merely whispered echoes, I want our children to know who they are, where they came from, and what they are capable of. The world is at their feet, their potential is their own salvation, and their dreams can conquer anything.
For now, it is fall and they are still my own, despite the blustering wind and marching of time.