in eighteen minutes

My house is full. My head is full. I get in my car and drive. I need space, and in the blue sky and white cloud I find it. I turn up the music and steer my car to calm, to peace. I search the sky until I get lost in its vastness. I only need a few seconds to get swallowed up in its big, blue belly.

I think about nothing and everything, thoughts spilling out willy nilly. I give them free reign in my head. Go, go!

****

I love the end of sticky sweet summer days when my kids come in from outside. They hurl themselves at me; their bodies warm from play and sun. There is dirt on their hands and ice cream rings around their mouths.

Yesterday they were in a race. Who’s going to tell me first? “Mommy! Look at what we found!” They thrust hydrangeas and black-eyed-susans under my nose shouting, “Smell them! Smell them!” I bury my face in them and gasp at how good they smell. They giggle and I find a vase to put them in. They whine when I slide the glass door closed and tell them to get ready for bed.

After they’re tucked in, after they’ve surrendered to sleep this is when I know I’m a mother. I check on them every night before it’s my turn to go to bed. I walk softly into their rooms to make sure they’re covered, to kiss their faces. I lean over and breathe deeply hoping to catch what’s left of their baby selves. If I squeeze my eyes shut I can still see my daughter’s newborn head turned to the side, her lips folded in half under the weight of her chubby cheek. There isn’t a trace of baby in my six year old now. My cartwheeling, wide-eyed, sassing six year old. Thumb firmly in mouth and blankets pulled to his chin my three year old has slept like this since he was an infant. It lingers with him not ready to leave just yet. As I stand there, careful not to pull them from sleep, motherhood settles on my shoulders. Will they know how much I love them? Will they see through my bad days and mistakes to my heart and know there isn’t a force great enough to separate them from me? Will they know? Will they see? Will they know? Will they see?

****

I drive until I remember that it’s a wide world we live in. I find a spot in the sky that I make my own. I fit here, I think. My responsibilities fly out the open window one at a time. Mother, wife, friend, worker, cleaner, schedule keeper… I open my hands and let my questions go. They buzz and flit, finding their own spot in the vastness. My thoughts slow. I float in blue sky and white cloud until my titles and badges return to me, an honor, landing safely, before I park my car in the driveway and go home.

Swept Up

In Hydrangeas
They’re in my yard in deep purples, whites and creams. I just love them.

10 thoughts on “in eighteen minutes

  1. Kate Coveny Hood

    Watching babyhood fade is so bitter sweet. I secretly smell my children too. I love your ability to use words to capture the feeling of getting lost in thought.

  2. Maggie May

    I love the hydrangeas..especially the cream. So beautiful. My youngest, she is seven…and it's too fast

  3. Christy

    Yes, they will know and they will see. I don't even know you, know you, and I can see it. What a beautiful post Heidi! I wish I could tiptoe in and watch my baby sleep – but she's a light sleeper and the floor creaks…every time I've done that I wake her up!

  4. bernthis

    I love to watch my daughter sleep. I get teary eyed and can't help but see all the last six years go right by me at such a fast pace and wonder where the hell did it all go?

  5. you gotta wonder

    God bless you, yes! You are right on. You are you and you are the titles you bear. Both are glorious gifts (as are the hydrangeas and the sky you captured so well). I have few regrets but one is that my girls somehow lost sight of how much I love them. I'm not making that mistake with my son. Love notes. Reminders. Praise. Positive comments.

    We've recently realized we're needing to step up the praise and positive comments because his new-behind-the-wheel-driving-skills require feedback, which counts as criticism, which weighs against praise. Hubby and I are consciously vocalizing praise and admiration for his skills, filling his love tank so he can take the moments when his parents cry out in alarm while he's driving.

  6. Linda Sue

    Oh darling girl, this post really got me! This sort of lovliness- this treasure- this brief period of time – too soon in the past- your post has taken me right back to where I always wanted to be- where I felt my heart so full I thought it impossible to love with such intensity and still function- my kid is gone now- really gone- out living his life as a sort of grown up and I feel so empty, except for the patch of blue sky that I sometimes curl up into like yours…only now I don't appreciate it as much as when it had to be squeezed in between kid stuff. Your life is blessed and beautiful, glad you realize and YES your kids know, will know, have always known…

  7. Jennifer

    Oh this left me feeling teary, every word is so true to how I feel in the evenings when I check my sleeping big kids (they are so longgg now in their beds). I can appreciate G's babyhood all the better now I know how truly fleeting it all is.

  8. Anna See

    This is so very lovely and true.

    When I look at my kids sleep they look exactly as they did as babies. And all of the hard parts of the day seems to dissipate in those darkened rooms.

  9. LMN

    Aaah, that very sweet post reminded me of my own beautiful, darling mother who loved hydrangeas, and who occasionall, also, just had to get in her car and drive.

    And YES, your darling children will see through what you call your "bad days" and they will know of all the love and strength and grace that was there for them even on those days.

  10. Intense Guy

    They most certainly will see how much you love and treasure them. I hope the phase in their lives when they think you can do nothing right is very short – and I hope they feel comfortable with expressing their love for you in return.

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