I'm LDS, and because I am, I spend the first weekend of October in my pajamas, watching eight hours of church on TV; and on Saturday evening my husband and older sons put on their white shirts and ties and go to the church building to watch two more on closed-circuit television.
That's irrelevant to anything except for this: Two years ago on General Conference weekend, while my husband and sons were at that meeting, I took a pregnancy test that turned my life upside down.
I didn't know how far upside down until an ultrasound two weeks later.
So here I am now, the 44-year-old mother of 17-month-old twins. In a single day I can clean up a half-pound of butter from the floor and two sets of little hands, brace myself against the auditory onslaught of two preteen girls singing along to YouTube videos, consider the impending costs of Driver's Ed for my freshman son, breathe a sigh of relief that my 21-year-old figured out what was wrong with his (our) truck and look forward to his and his 18-year-old brother's planned visit home from what was supposed to be just a summer working together three hours away. Now the eldest plans to stay all year, and the younger is determined to attend spring semester away from home. He wants, in fact, to get there as soon as possible. I'm left wondering if the short time we all had together last Christmas will be the only Christmas I will have with all my children and only my children.
Most poignant has been my attempts recently to teach Jonathan, my verbal twin, how to say his big brothers' names so that they won't feel as bad about being away from home while their little brothers are growing up as I feel about having them away.
It's a complicated life.
It's strange to think of all that's happened in the last two years--besides the twins' birth. My second son graduated high school; my third son entered high school. We moved from the northernmost end of the state to the southernmost, and my eldest son moved with us (and therefore, back home). Three weeks of job-hunting later, he and his brother suddenly were offered work at a resort in the Sawtooths, and the next day they were both gone--one moving back out, the other moving out for the first time, literally overnight. Nothing over the past 24 months has occurred as I expected, beginning with that General Conference weekend when I thought I'd put some stress to rest with a ten-dollar pregnancy test.
And I can look forward and know that there's more to come. My eldest is 21, an age at which I was married; within two years he'll be almost 24, older than his father was on our wedding day. My second will either prepare to serve a two-year mission beginning in early summer, or he will assert his agency as his brother did and choose not to go; either will be a monumental event. My third son will reach our family's threshold age for dating, and significantly will also demonstrate whether he will be a solid, dedicated scholar like one of his older brothers, or a seat-of-the-pants kind of guy like the other, or (more likely) some other stress-inducing brand of student for his parents to fret over. My daughter will enter junior high. She will likely get her period and her first bra; she's already showing signs. The boyos, of course, will go from toddlerhood to preschoolers with all the growth that attends that.
And me. I'll move onto the wrong side of my 40s, dragging my aching knees and bad hip with me, and doing my best to enjoy the pivotal moments of motherhood the next two years will bring. I'd never have imagined myself as the mother of so many children in so many stages of life, but it does make one thing clear. The days--they can be long...but, oh, the years are short.