Today one of my closest friends brought her daughter for her driver’s permit. She passed with flying colors, and my friend wrote to me that she wondered if one could feel heartbroken and happy all at the same time.
Yes, I responded.
Tonight as many nights, I snuggled three kiddos before bed on the couch. We watched the Spring Baking Championship and I reached out for them to join me, so that I could hold them… but tonight was different. Try as I could, I couldn’t figure out how to make my lap, legs and arms hold all three of their lengthening, solidifying bodies. My body creaked under their weight, my bones shifting and muscles flattening.
How did this happen seemingly overnight? That suddenly the dimensions of me are no longer enough to accommodate the dimensions of them? Could I remember the last time I could hold them, really hold them, all together? Was it two nights ago? Last week? For something seemingly so trivial, I could feel my heart ache with recognition… yet another last had come and gone… another step forward and away, as they grow and change.
And so I held them in shifts tonight. His curls no longer wind around my fingers in perfect baby ringlets, but it’s still as soft as it’s always been. Her hair no longer smells of milk and baby shampoo. I can smell the sweat of a workout we did together at the gym this afternoon, mixed with the slight scent of Clearasil. Her fingers are too long to fit perfectly inside my palm, but they rest beautifully entwined with my own.
I know that these days are fleeting, that they won’t always let me cuddle them, that really I’m lucky they’ll still let me now. I know that someday soon I’ll be bringing them for their driver’s permits. So, while I can, I’ll hold them… in shifts… and I’ll feel my heart swell and break, heartbroken and happy, all at the same time.