Outside our windows, change is at work.
The trees are letting go of their leaves.
The skies are letting go of their composure.
The season is letting go of its resistance.
Inside, the day is slow. And yet, change is at work.
Arms moving frantically, the oldest maneuvers the trains around the tracks. While little brother naps, he enjoys the quiet solitude that settles in and gives space for his imagination to live without the brother’s grasping and demolishing hands. He sings “Going on a Bear Hunt” off and on, intermixed with crashing sounds and imaginary dialogue amongst the trains.
Staring at him, I try to uncover and bring to the light the change I feel. His fourth birthday has brought about all the cliche bittersweet feelings. My eyes lock on his face and as he asks for help, I loose myself in his eyes as I wonder… how do four years feel both long and short at the same time? It feels like I’ve been parenting forever. And yet it feels too soon to be entering big kid territory. The power of looking in his eyes can feel almost threatening. I don’t know how to quantify it. I don’t know how to predict it. With each milestone, each year, I wonder… what hard lessons are yet to be faced? What is yet to come before us? What aspects of life are going to threaten to undo him, and me?
I know the truth is that the days are not mine to rule. I did not breeze by them. I could not make them stay. They pass without ever asking my permission.
In the early days, we counted each one. We measured life by weeks and then months and now years. Looking back, it’s as we’ve built up a pile of days stacked up on top of each other. It’s a pile that rivals the messy pile of artwork threatening to spill off the table by the back door. For good or bad, every twenty-four hours, another one goes atop the pile.
The pile of 1,463 days we’ve had together feels enormous and impossible. If I try to meddle into it too much, it will fall. If I neglect it, it will fall. The pile of days demands my attention. I must take the time to reflect. And yet, the pile is outside of my current reality. I must not become consumed in that which can no longer be.
During these tender times, I tidy up the pile of days. I go back through a few that stick out. I turn them over and I remember what I can. I see the stack of them and I grieve over what I cannot remember.
I pause and breathe in the day at hand and try to not rush too quickly through it. For this one, too, will land in the pile… never to be retrieved again.
With every one of his calls for help and clumsy leaps of excitement, he and I are building on the hardwork we’ve poured into one another… me into him, as I have taught him how to live; he into me, as he has taught me to feel.
I give thanks for this messy pile of days that amounts to four years. For it is our shared history that is shaping us for all that is yet to come. May we let go of the days as they pass so that we may have open hands for whatever life brings us.