By: Amber Leventry
The morning air was cool today and without humidity for the first time in almost a week. And there was something about the way the evening sun hung in the sky that felt urgent and tired at the same time before it dropped below the horizon for the night. We still have a few weeks of summer and at least several more weeks of warm, summerlike days to enjoy, but today felt like the beginning of a new season.
In two weeks my oldest child will start kindergarten and my twins will start preschool three days a week. It will be the first day all three of my kids will be in school at the same time, and the first time the twins will be cared for outside of our home. My stretch as a work at home/stay at home mom has been humbling, exhausting, and sometimes lonely. I am ready for the three days a week when all children will be out of the house, when I can work without fear of a broken nap; run errands without strapping helpers in and out of their car seats and establish healthier habits to better take care of myself.
Yet there has been a tug of something mixed into this readiness that has been more sentimental than the push-them-out-of-the-front-door-before-I go-batshit-crazy feelings I usually have when I think about the first day of school.
This summer has been one of independence for my twins. Words are flowing, diapers are gone, and the fear of one of them getting hurt with everything they try has been tamed. Ben and Ryan are capable little people. With this growth has come a purging of things we no longer need for them or any other baby to follow. There will be no more babies to follow. Our family of five is complete.
Most of the things they have outgrown were easy to part with. But the rocking chair that finally collapsed after six years of use by two mamas and three babies was hard to let go of. We spent what felt like endless nights rocking our daughter, then our twins in that chair. My partner nursed three babies, sometimes two at a time in that chair while I stood by helplessly and watched or slept in our room across the hall, never knowing she was up again. That chair absorbed spit up, tears, sweat, and hours of bedtime stories.
My heart broke a little when its arm literally fell off while I snuggled a twin on either side of me during story time. I felt like I needed to give it a better burial than the pile at the dump, but there are no cemeteries for sentimental furniture, so I tossed it onto an old chest I hoped had as many stories to tell as our busted chair.
I should have been ecstatic when we passed the changing table, which for the last several months has served as a book shelf and climbing unit, onto friends expecting their first child. Still, its absence felt like an eraser of well-earned, being in the trenches, memories of blowouts, unexpected urine streams, 2, 3, 4 and 5:00 am diaper changes.
One my most painful, yet strangely fond, memories of being a parent to twins took place at the changing table during the first month of their lives. When they woke in the night, my job was to change each baby and then hand them to my partner so they could tandem breast feed. After having changed one baby and while changing the second, I fell asleep. Standing in front of the changing table, diaper in hand, I was asleep, only to be startled awake by my partner asking what was taking so long.
That changing table held the weight of our growing babies and supported our tired and slumped over bodies. I do not miss diaper changes, but sometimes I long for the tiny fingers, toes, and folds of the neck I didn’t kiss enough. Sometimes I wish I had stared into my babies’ eyes a bit longer as they watched me navigate through another dirty diaper or change of clothes. But it’s time. New mamas are ready to lean on that table as they stumble through the days and nights of parenthood.
There were toys, books, and stuffed animals I held, okay hugged, before I put them in a box to be donated. But I also started a bin of things I can’t part with. Yes, they are just things, but the book that made our serious Ryan laugh so hard it made us cry with laughter needs to stay. The tiny stuffed bird Eva loved and confused its beak for a nipple in a fit of hunger isn’t going anywhere. The soft, crinkly toys Ben chewed on, threw, and crawled to are tucked away. I want some things to only have memories made by my family to be attached to them.
Lately I have been feeling a bit like the summer sun, tired and urgently trying to keep my head held high and savor the length of each day, knowing full well they are getting shorter. My kids are growing up and this new season of change is one we are all ready for. Their journeys are mine in some way, but the memories and emotions of what is to come will be created and stored differently for each of us. Independence is a form of letting go. Sometimes this will be easy; other times I will want to stop time and preserve it in a box.
I am ready, though, and they are too. New friendships are waiting. New lessons and skills will soon be learned. New feelings are about to be discovered. New routines will turn into old habit. Memories are waiting to be made. It’s time.