I sat in the rocking chair tucked into a corner of Lucy and Emmie’s room as the day drew itself to a close. Emmie nursed and I let my head fall back against the seat, closing my eyes for a brief moment of rest before moving on to conquer bedtimes # 2, 3, and 4. The soft light of dusk peeked through the edges of the blinds closed against the approaching dark. And I heard it - the incessant buzzing of a fly trapped between the glass and the blinds, a sound that quickly took me back to one of Lu’s (many) phases.
It was just last year, I think, probably in the dog days of summer - like now - when we always have 3 or 4 flies sneak their way into the house and then refuse to leave. One night Lucy lay alone in her bed after prayers had been prayed and lullabies had been sung and she listened to that buzzing. It was “creepy.” She yelled for Mommy and would not relax until the offending fly had been located, smushed, and removed from the premises. For nights afterward - weeks, months, even - she would not let me leave her room after tucking her in without walking to the window and checking the blinds for flies. A mere glance in that general direction would not do. I was required to wade through the messes of Lucy’s imagined worlds that had been crafted earlier in the day and manually lift the blinds, taking care to sound extremely convincing as I said, “No flies here tonight!” It became a part of the nightly routine so quickly and was adhered to so strictly that it seemed like it would always happen.
Except that now, it doesn’t. As I sat in the chair with Emmie I pondered when and how we had dropped that from our evening’s choreography. And I remembered how, a few years earlier, we had sung “On Top of Spaghetti” - all SIX verses - every night without fail while putting Aida and Sophie to bed. I remembered how I grew to despise that song and how just sometimes I wished they would choose to sing something different and how I was convinced that I would be singing that song every night for the rest of my life.
And then I wasn’t.
It is equal parts comforting, heartbreaking, and terrifying to be far enough into the parenthood journey to recognize that everything - everything - is a phase. The patter of 4 little feet down the hall and then 2 warm, chubby bodies scrambling into bed with me to usher in each new day. Those same little feet crawling out of bed so many times after lights out that I wanted to scream and punch the wall. The days of library Storytime and playgrounds and looking around the house, wondering how to fill the afternoon. The 6:30 bedtime (bliss) and the 5:30 wake up (not so much). The tears before Sunday School, and then the tears before School School. That time they were afraid of Mr. Noodle on Sesame Street. That time we had 3 small children and we moved in with my grandparents. The baby grunting all night long. The funny little 3-toothed smile. This life is made up of many seasons and Autumn’s glorious arrival always announces the end of Summer’s carefree days. Each new beginning, be it wonderful or brutal, requires that there also be an ending.
So as I work to parent two beautiful, senstive, strong-willed girls who are just beginning to hear the rumblings of adolescence’s independence, and walk along the path of new-school days with my fierce, fiery, glorious 5-year-old, and dwell in the days of delight and exhaustion as our infant insists on racing toward toddlerhood, I am working - in the midst of the change and the constant flow of phases new and old - to hold it all lightly, knowing how soon things will change, and to recognize the constants.
Gratitude. Fear. Humility. An overwhelming, deeply-abiding Love for these people who share my life and my home, far greater - and so much different - than I ever imagined it would be. Joy. Anxiety. These have been my constant companions over much of the past decade, and while there are a few I’d like to kick to the curb, I am realizing that while my children have been growing up and changing, these constants have been growing and changing me, too. There is a stirring in my heart as I embrace this time in my life, knowing that before I can blink twice we will all have grown up a bit more and moved onto something new. It scares me. It excites me. It makes me want to be SO PRESENT in this moment, in this phase.
Which happens to be the Pokemon, tears in the morning, snuggles at night, shoes on the living room floor, heads on my shoulders as I read, baby hands on my face, homework hating, friend loving, remembering who I am phase.I’ll take it.