How to hold these moments / by Christina Rosalie

I know that nothing lasts. I know that spring in this place, northward where the light is lingering now and the first dandelions fleck the lawn, will become summer before I blink. I know these days will pass, and I will look back, suddenly much older than I am, with a heart full of longing for the sweet scent of my son’s head after playing in his sandbox until noon and for the way each year we celebrate the first trillium, purple and secretive by the tumbling stone wall, with our own little giddy dance.

I will likely not remember this season’s heart full of ambiguity and ache. I will probably entirely forget how Bean has entered a new SUPER BOSSY exceptionally annoying phase this past week where he’s trying on YELLING and DEMANDING just to see how far he gets with that. (Not far, little man. Not far at all.)

I know this, and yet I’m still struggling with being right here in these moments, because damn, right here in these moments is an uncomfortable place to be sometimes.

I know they are not unique, these moments of stress and financial strain and oh damn, I’ll just say it, it’s spring and I’m feeling a little tethered by these two boys. I still don’t know how to take on the playground, or any trip for that matter that involves just me and my boys. I don’t know how she does it with her girl tribe and her positive attitude all the time, because right now nothing terrifies me quite as much as the prospect of being out somewhere when they launch into their perfectly synchronized meltdowns.

I need to know how you do this with two. How do you get two into the car and then back out of it—without a double stroller. How do you make sure the big one doesn’t fall off the swing at the playground or get run over in the parking lot while toting the enormous weight a car seat carrier or a baby strapped to your person? What do you do with the big one while the little one needs a diaper change at the bookstore, and the situation demands an entire change of clothing due to an apparent explosion up the back? Or, how do you possibly navigate something as civilized and pleasant as a story hour for the bigger one, if the littler one is present and possibly grumpy? Not to mention—shopping for a new pair of jeans? (He’s here, he’s there, he’s under every freaking clothes rack in the store, and oh joy, he’s managed to unhang eighty nine dresses, even though of course, he didn’t mean to.)

My solution thus far has been to stay home. Which is decidedly not a good solution. It is spring after all. Picnic baskets seem in order, and swinging at the playground and trips to the bakery for croissants. There is a consignment store for fabulous vintage jeans I’ve been dying to poke around in, and there are errands of the more mundane sort (the post office for more stamps, we’re out of Vitamin C, the chickens need more hay) that seem to pile up, never getting done. I’m floundering a bit. This two thing is hard. Not loving them, just having them. Together. Logistically speaking.

I know it will all pass, and I’ll be grinning like a cat after a bowl of cream in four or five years when I can use both hands for carrying things like lattes and shopping bags, and my boys will be SO BIG. I know it will get easier, and I’ll take a not-so-secret glee in watching my currently childless friends whose lives seem divinely effortless right now, navigate these same first years with their own little ones. Because it just is the way it is. Littleness demands patience and selflessness and satisfaction in small things.

Guess what I'm figuring out?

Having little ones means showing up for parenting even when you don’t feel like it. It's not Bean’s fault or Sprout’s that I’m worried about money, or that DH and I sometimes climb a proverbial tower of Babel and are unable to say anything the other one understands, or that my pants are tight, or I miss my girlfriends. Because these days that are passing? These hours of bright sunlight and stormy afternoons; these rain puddles and duck feathers and muddy garden beds; these moments? These are their childhood.

Theirs. Short, fleeting, glorious.

So even though DH and I were both tired and preoccupied after going for a run yesterday (with both boys in the jogger and the sun warm on our backs) I went and got the little plastic terrarium and hiked down to the neighbor’s pond because I promised I would.

I promised Bean I’d help him catch a tadpole, and he held me to my promise, big-eyed, curious, eager. We went before dinner, and I tried very hard to just sink into our time together. The grass was scandalously green. There were soft catkins from the birches under foot, and mud, and sparkly rocks. We went barefoot, and in the pond the silt was soft. The reeds from last year's cattails were limp and brown and lumpy with gelatinous bobbing egg sacks.

I waded out, sun-warmed water up to my knees and scooped the jellied eggs. Polliwogs soon, we think. We also caught a newt. Still with gills. Its belly jewel like, spotted, yellow and green.

“I love you, Newty” Bean kept whispering later, as he sat at the kitchen table in glorious evening sunlight, drawing what he saw.

These moments, how to hold them? How do you hold them and let them be enough?

Oh restless heart, be still, be still.