The post-Christmas re-entry . . . all I can say is Whew!
Last week made the first days of school feel like a trip to the beach. We were flat worn out, one and all. One morning as the sun was peeking through the pecan orchard out back, John and Ainsley stumbled out to the couch where I was enjoying coffee and morning prayer. John snuggled up on my left side and Ainsley sidled up to my right. Totally bushed, they attempted to catch a few more ZZZ'z on my lap.
A sweet, sweet moment rubbing John's caramel haired head and Ainsey's baby fine, blonde one.
I revel in these times perhaps more than I used to. Is this because I have a teenager with a gravelly voice and massive feet who's talking of drivers' permits and cars and college?
As babies grow and develop, we tend to mark all the firsts -- talking, crawling, walking. Lately I've been thinking about the lasts. Do we mark the lasts?
When, a mommy columnist once wrote, did my living room see its last fort?
When was the last time I carried Kolbe or read aloud to Tim? When did Thomas the Train become passe and Winnie the Pooh worthy of nothing but a groan and an eye roll?
Last week Ainsley appeared in my room in the middle of the night, looking adorable in her striped blanket sleeper, carrying her magic wand. We had gone to Tim's basketball game the evening before. Can I bring my wand? she had asked. Sure, I had said. Then she wanted the pink gloves and the princess shoes and the purse and Oh, why not? I had thought.
During the game my friend -- now a mother of two teenage girls -- leaned over and said, "Enjoy it! I miss this so much!"
We have a bit of a split family -- the big boys and the little people. One of the benefits that comes with a split family is that some of those lasts are coming 'round once again. At the library last week, John came running up to me with a book. Let's read this, he told me excitedly.
The book was Charlotte's Web. One summer, probably ten years back, Tim and I read through nearly all of E.B. White. While I love Charlotte's Web, nothing beats Trumpet of the Swan. If you've watched the movie, but not read the book, go check it out. There's a wit you can't catch watching it. The father is just flat hilarious. And Stuart Little? The movies simply don't do him justice.
Ainsley ran a fever a few months back. Huddled in a pathetic lump, she called to me and said, "Rock me, Mama."
Believe me, I was thrilled to rock her. For some reason, she's wanted to be rocked off and on ever since then.
In the atrium, we teach our smallest children pouring and spooning works, simple manual tasks that occupy little bodies so that minds are free to think about a scripture we've presented, a single, essential Gospel message.
Rocking is like spooning beans for me -- it's a meditative act. I rub Ainsley's head. I pat her back. I think. I sing. I pray. In the midst of a day that's hectic and loud, fast-paced and full -- and right now they're all like that -- I take a few minutes to be still, to be quiet, to focus on a single, essential person.
One day I'll do this for the last time.
For now I plan to enjoy it.