My shoulders and jeans are streaked with snail trails of snot as Lily and Jovie use me as an oversized mobile wiping unit. Just as I used to do to my mom. We mothers are just walking handkerchiefs after all.
It's been a long, cold winter and I think this is her last assault on my household before melting back into the earth. Each day the snow in my backyard cedes more territory to the grass. The other night I started dinner late, not realizing what time it was because the sun was still streaming through my living room at half past five.
I've been staring down winter and screaming for spring so loudly I've missed the subtle shifts that signal its impending arrival.
"I'm almost here," she whispers in a tree full of robins and a the rounded tips of buds on my neighbor's tulip tree.
In "The Night Circus" one of the performers of the Cirque des Reves is a living statue. A person who seemingly stands unmoving to watch her, but turn your back for a moment and she'll be in a totally new pose.
It occurred to me recently that motherhood is a lot like these statues.
You stare intently for the slightest signs of change.
That glorious first night of uninterrupted sleep. The moment that first tooth breaks through. The tentative early steps. The heart-stopping moment of a small soft arm wrapping around your neck in a hug.
When do I get to celebrate the next big milestone? When will they stop needing me for this or that? When will she be the person she is to become?
And then it happens. Maybe you weren't looking or you were and it was too fast or too slow for you to take note. But there it is. And there it went. And all that happened before it was a mirage.
Isn't this how it's always been?
What did that gummy grin look like again?
I wish I could remember.
Here is Jovie, who will be 2 in April, trying to dress herself.
Yesterday, Lily was patting my belly waiting for her little sister to come out.
And wasn't it just last week, I was pacing the labor hall at the hospital on the eve of motherhood, unknowing of the impending earthquake that would shape every fiber of my being with her tiny fists and perfectly round head.
"Mom, tell me the story about the day I was born," Lily asks, because at 3, she wants to know her own narrative. And I tell her all I remember, the details both vivid and fuzzy all at once.
I imagine my parents and aunts and uncles have the same feeling. Where has time gone?
Those babies with their sticky, orange popsicle faces all have babies now. All those exhausting years we wished to be the ones, separated by a generation, who could sit back and laugh at those silly, naughty children and rain all the easy parts of love on them are here now.
You said Lily tells you not to sing? And Jovie wipes her nose on your shirts? They fight in the back seat of the car and refuse to eat their dinner?
What goes around comes around daughter.
May the circle of snot be unbroken.
(With special thanks to Steph for sharing this Anna Quindlen essay and to Jovie, who insisted that the only place she could take a nap yesterday was on my stomach, which gave me a rare hour of quiet reflection.)