My family is settled. We're all here. Together as seven. We're in our home now, where we do nightly sit-down dinners. We talk gratitude. We do sports practices. We do kitchen dance parties. We do hide-and-seek. Games! Games! Games! And playing with the neighbor kids a few doors down. We do homework and homework and geezohpete more homework. We do fighting. God, do we ever do fighting. We do crying. (Of course we do!) We do yelling. I wish we did less yelling, but maybe we'll always be loud. Mostly, though, we do love. Over and over again, we do I love yous. I love you. And my mama heart is full up.
I am in my own self-professed Golden Age of mothering. I've got my second and first graders. It's fun to do the big-kid things with them. My kindergartner, she's a hoot. Full of innocence and says the wisest things, as only kindergartners do. Then there's my toddler/preschooler who lives in his imagination and ferrets through our drawers. Makes us pull out our hair with his glorious, ridiculous shenanigans we feign hating, but really love. And lastly, I have my baby. My darling baby who puts her dimpled baby hand on my neck.
Golden ages are characterized by stability, harmony, prosperity. Is it any surprise I don't want this time to end? Who would?! Let's be golden forever! Can't all of life be golden? I don't want to say goodbye to this! All this goodness. I dreamed it to be like this for so long.
It reminds me of the final days of a pregnancy. You want it to be over. You don't. You're unsure what the future holds. You hold onto your belly a little bit longer...
On the early May morning my labor with Mabel began, the house was dark and quiet. The house stayed dark and quiet for some time. We kept the kids home from school. They slept in. I looked out the big picture window in the living room. Our street was quiet, too. I felt like the World itself put a hush on things and for a moment cupped my cheek in its palm. It felt tender. Like love. It was love.
When a contraction came, I put my forehead against the cold leather couch. In that coolness I lost touch with that dark morning, the light, the house, the street, the world. Even the quiet was gone. Every few minutes a swell would wash over me -- a contraction -- and I slipped into that lovely calm space between all the things. Just me, the baby, my breath, and the rhythm.
Oh, that rhythm. Expand contract expand contract expand out in out in out in out in out out out out out OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT and in in in. And again. Letting the rhythm take me is what I like about labor. I don't shy away from the work. I love the purpose in the pain.
There came a point that day when I found myself in our half bath, alone. The stronger morning light flooded the tiny room. I'd gone from the couch to laboring in my bed, and now here I was in this little bathroom. The force of my baby coming out kept me on my knees. It sounds strange and perhaps wrong to say I wanted to stay right there on my knees. But I did. That's what I wanted. Just to stay there and stretch time.
Because I knew.
I knew the next time I got up, I'd be helped to the birth pool. I knew I'd have my baby soon after leaving that bathroom.
I knew that was my moment to say goodbye to pregnancy.
Our bodies have limitations. Time has limitations. Having it all, all the time, is an illusion. When the choice to stay locked in a moment, a period, an age -- no matter how golden -- no longer serves your greater good, it is better to move. Be free. Move on. Say goodbye and move on, because other golden things, people, places, opportunities -- they await.
I may have said goodbye to pregnancy, but that day I also said hello to one Mabel Clementine.
I may eventually say goodbye to this particular busy golden age of mothering, bringing up my kids and babies, but I'll be saying OH HI THERE! HELLO! to... the next beautiful part of my life.
I know it.
Maybe all of life can be golden.