The baby days do not dredge up nostalgia for me. I was too tired, too harried, too sad. I plowed through those years on an empty tank, burning fumes. I loved my babies fiercely of course, and I also loved those days in a manner of speaking, but I would not choose to live them again.
This past fall, my son started full-day kindergarten, and my daughter started third grade. This was to be my first year of hard-fought freedom. Before the schools closed, I was spending my mornings in my writing room, scribbling out chapters and essays and revising a novel for publication. In the afternoons, I would read or garden or take the dog for a long walk around the wetlands behind our house. Naturally, those days are now gone for the unforeseeable future.
Last night I was cooking dinner after another long, loud day, and my son started putting a puzzle together on the kitchen floor. I had to step over him as I walked back and forth, fetching ingredients and opening drawers. It jogged memories of my babies in their big-bottomed diapers – riding around on my ankles, banging pot lids with wooden spoons, dumping out the basket of measuring cups. Savor these moments, everyone said, and I tried and often failed.
But now, in the presence of an imminent threat, I understand better that these days, too, will pass, and I will not get them back. I am starting to learn how to live when the sky is falling – and it is always maybe falling. Do not begrudge the puzzle. Step gently around your son. Marvel at the spring as it comes, remembering that there is only one of everything.