Last night my dreams were filled with waves of new-birthed babies and softly rounded toddlers. This morning I am beached and bereft. I want nothing more than to reach down into a crib and gather up an armful of warm, sleepy child, every inch of the plumped body absolutely buzzing with life. I want to wait for a visit from a friend with another small child, and I want to talk and drink tea while we watch the clumsy navigations of unsure hands and unsteady feet. I want to sit in the rocker and feel a warm, befuzzed baby head grazing the delicate skin on the inside of my forearm. I want to experience that moment when you lift a baby under their arms and their head automatically goes just far enough back that you can reach that perfectly kissable spot under their chin.
I miss Angus calling himself A. "A do it!" "The wain was falling on A's head!" I miss the way he called a frying pan a pancake and called beer Dad Juice and ran towards the phone yelling Hi Damma, Hi Damma even when I wasn't talking to Grandma. I miss Eve enthusiastically saying "Nice booby thing, Mommy!" every time she saw me wearing a pretty bra. I miss the naked hug we would do every morning before I got in the shower. I miss the way they would both start yelling "DANCE MOMMY! DANCE! in the last few seconds of Sesame Street, distressed that I might not get out of my chair quickly enough for us to dance while the catchy, syncopated version of the Sesame Street song played over the credits. I miss the way that every single thing was an amazing discovery and a new experience.
We are all conversant with the ways in which parenthood is a parade of small deaths and vestigial mournings. Sometimes I think it's monstrously unfair that we are bound to experiencing our children in such a relentlessly linear fashion. Wouldn't it be nicer if the chain of days was interspersed with spacers where we could reach into the past - go from six days of algebra and peach-fuzz whiskers and giant shoes back to a few hours of picture books and playing with the garden hose and word pronunciation gone delightfully askew and silky smooth cheeks?
No, of course not. It would be unnatural and wrong. I've read Slaughterhouse Five and The Time Traveler's Wife. Some of my worst nightmares revolve around coming untethered in time. And I know the Monkey's Paw-ishness of this kind of wish. I know there are people who have lost their small children and never get to experience the pleasure and awe of the new people you're supposed to receive in exchange. I know there are people who do have the experience of living with children who don't age, and for many of them it's no cause for celebration.
I love these people I live with. I love that I carried something inside me that now towers over me. I love that they can have thoughts that amaze me. I love that they find strength and confidence in actions and environments that are completely apart from me. I love seeing the ways in which they are like me and the ways in which they are wondrously, vastly different.
But they were of me, and every day they are less so. And some days the throbbing of that absence is a little more noticeable. And today I just feel like letting that pain have a place, and a voice.