There was a time when we leaned back into couches and weren’t sure if we’d be able to get back out of them; our pregnant, rounded bellies sitting like so many beach balls in our laps. There would be commiseration about heartburn, clothes no longer fitting, nausea, and exhaustion, but mostly we laughed and we dreamed. I don’t know what the husbands spoke about. I knew wonder and it grew and grew.
Somehow then we were in the thick of it, with babies and toddlers, and were in and out of maternity clothing on the regular. Our toddlers grew into friends, our babies which we once rocked to sleep in their carseats with our feet while we played board games were tearing around, trashing toy rooms and pretending together. We went from couples with babies to a whole vibrant community with shared memories stretching back years and years.
As kids entered grade school, one by one, the moms could catch their breath and look around. Some decided to work, to find their purpose and passion in fields of interest to them, others had to work to support the family, others devoted themselves to educating their kids at home, others found home itself work enough. Our worlds opened outwards as the kids grew, into new schools, new churches, new connections, new responsibilities, new stories.
Though we would get together as able, and delighted yet in the ease of being with those with common history, one could feel the looser weave.
I walked today with my baby and my toddler in a park where I’ve spent untold afternoons with friends and their little ones. I settled a child on each knee and we watched ducks and a great blue heron beside a sparkling pond with cheerful fountains; autumn giving every tree a gilded, crisp look. There wasn’t anyone to call to join us when we’d spontaneously decided to escape the house and Monday’s laundry. There’s work and homeschooling and a billion busy things, and I understand.
But I miss them. I miss journeying together. I’m too old for the new moms, and generally, I think I freak them out by not hovering over my babies, by letting them climb high on the playground equipment, by letting them get frustrated and work through stuff. I find now that I talk to the grandmas, but often they’re on their phones, which is sort of funny, but mostly sad.
I want to have more babies. I want to peer into little faces again; hear newborn squeaks and sighs. How much joy and laughter is there, in the knowing of a person, brand new to the world. I want to feel the kicks and squirms through my own skin, to carry a soul not my own but knit within me. I’m not over it. I’m not past it. I haven’t moved on and held a garage sale and reclaimed my home. It would upset none of my plans; my plan is simply to live.
My toddler put on a severe pout today; he pulled it on deliberately, like a heavy coat, and I could hear in my heart the sounds of an inner stream of laughter; one that is always flowing but not always overflowing outwards. He teaches me in caricature; in his simple sins I see the roots of my seemingly complex ones. A screaming fit? Mine may happen inside, but what’s the difference? Any size fist can be raised to shake at God. He surely repents better than I do; in tears and real compunction.
What am I saying…only this; I’m not eager to hurry away, to go on to the next thing. I am in a garden and I haven’t exhausted my wonder at all the flowers.