There are things I miss from my life before the boys were born. I had raised four kids to some level of independence--my youngest was 9--and finally I had the freedom to come and go as I chose (between 9 am and 3 pm). Often, I chose to be in a classroom somewhere, standing in for a regular teacher. Pay was a pittance but it added up; I had a list of things on which I would spend it. Other days, I chose to be out in my kayak on the lake, or on my bike. Today I'm too broad for my kayak's narrow cockpit, and my Haro has been replaced by a Trek that is friendlier to my aging and wearing body but makes me feel like Pee Wee Herman.
I miss my old body.
Some of the things I miss are from after the boys were born. People will think I'm crazy, but I miss the questions. I get a lot fewer of them now that the boys are older. I loved going shopping and stopping every twenty steps to answer those questions and to tell my story.
I love telling stories.
But I have never been the kind of mother who looked back longingly and with regret at the stages my children had left behind. I'm too busy watching their discoveries and looking forward with excitement to the wonders ahead of them.
I love the way they share everything--pacifiers, bites of dinner, hugs. That's one of the stages they are in right now. Each is always looking to see what the other is doing. They bring each other their blankets or their teddy bears or their jackets.
I love their differences. Jesse is all about the physical stuff--splash it, dig it, push it, throw it, punch it, chase it. Jonathan is focused on mimicry and words. He learns a new word every time I breathe, it seems.
I love that when they want an animal--cat, dog, goat or horse--to come to them, they reach out their arms, open and close their hands, and make a clucking noise with their tongues, utterly convinced that the animal only needs to know their wishes. I love that enough animals respond exactly as they expect, by coming to them, that they think these motions and these noises carry some kind of magic. They don't know that Gradpa's goats expect grain, that the horse suspects there's an apple in their Daddy's pocket, that the neighbor's cat is used to being fed by their sister.
They think it's them, grasping and clucking. And the animals haven't let them down.
I love watching their older siblings play, cuddle, and read with them. And here's another thing I miss--I miss the grown boys, who are working far away and not here where I can see their tenderness and interest in these two little brothers no one expected.
I'm looking forward to the next time they are all together, this half-dozen of mine. I look forward like a child to Christmas, when we will all be home. I want to look around at all their faces, the almost-men and the babies and the girl and boy between, and hear their voices tangling round each other in their energy and enthusiasm. To hear them teasing and cajoling each other, laughing together. To see the gracious spirits I was promised in the glow of starry lights and the warmth of home.