We have no babies anymore. Our youngest Haven-Kate is turned six this summer and Liam turned eleven this spring. I've been a mother for over decade. Liam our oldest, his labour was long and hard and far from natural. I knew less than nothing about having a baby or what I was supposed to do or how to get things off to a good start. He has never been much of a sleeper.
Aaron was transferred provinces when Liam was just four weeks old. I got our house ready for showings and packed up and commuted between provinces for months by myself, with a newborn. I was exhausted and I spent a lot of time nursing on the side of the highway and shaking toy after toy behind me while I drove to try and keep him content for another half hour.
But this isn’t what I remember. I remember his heavenly baby smell and nursing him for hours reading books or looking at his little fingers and face while sitting in the sunshine. I remember crying because he would only be five, 13, 47 days old once and it was all going by too fast. I can still see him being cuddled on Aaron's chest on the couch after I crept back downstairs after getting a few hours sleep and the primal feeling of missing him during that time. I remember his very first baby laugh that sounded like the most perfect thing I couldn’t have even imagined. I remember how having him filled in a part of me I didn’t know was missing.
The same is true for the girls – there were hard things, busy things, exhausted things when they were babes. More moves, three year olds, work and family challenges, stress.
Yet with Raine - I remember only the way she looked up at me with serene wide open eyes right after being born, no crying and how that changed my soul, again. I remember rocking her in the rocker and nursing her warm against my chest and how small she felt in my arms. Liam loved to hold her and Aaron too but when she was upset, she only wanted me and I secretly cherished that so much. I remember thinking how absolutely perfect she is and how her amber eyes sparkled and how stunningly she did life on her own terms right from the very beginning. I remember how she filled a piece of me I didn’t even know was empty.
And Haven-Kate I remember how she came into the world – just her and I and the peace and joy of a stormy summer night. I remember her cuddly little self and her happy gummy grins and more nursing and more sunshine and walking through our very own woods with her on my back. Haven was everyone’s baby and she lived her joy with every pore of her little body. I remember how we didn’t know when she had woken up because she just lay there peacefully waiting until someone happened by. I remember her staying up late with Aaron and I after the other two had gone to bed and cuddling and talking to her and singing her little songs and how I looked forward to that, every night. I remember how we weren’t sure we would ever have a third and how she was the baby that filled my desire I wasn’t sure I had.
I rocked them all and smelt their heads a hundred times a day and held them to my chest and slept cuddled around them.
Those were the sweetest years, those were the days. Those are the ones that are over now.
Those are the memories I know I will think back on fondly when my face is creased with wrinkles and my arms are too feeble to heft a toddler.
This summer when we were on vacation on the west coast Aaron looked at me at the end of the day and said ‘Today was perfect’ with a satisfied sigh. He was right. We’d stumbled upon the most beautiful lake. It had rock sides plunging deep, continuing down from the mountains above. The water was clear and clean and warm.
My babies who aren’t babies anymore cliff jumped into that water for hours and hours. They are their father’s kids too and he has a strong passion for rock climbing and adventure running through his veins and it was passed onto all three of our kids. It thrums there inside of them leaving little fear of anything and much passion for challenge and life.
So they scrambled up the rocky sides and jumped 15, 25, 30 feet into the water below. I held my breath as they flew through the air, seeing the people they are becoming. I felt a little scared, yes, but mostly I felt gratitude to bear witness to something so wonderful, to plunge deeply into such beauty, such life beside them. We left smelling like line dried sheets, exhausted and filled with joy from just being alive.
There it was so apparent to see in all of that day's perfection. We have no babies anymore. We have three amazing kids who are growing into their own people. I am learning on the cliffs and I have learned thousands of other times. There is nothing to be scared of.
Every age and stage, I see my kids, I see them filled to the brim with life. I see in them goodness and humanness and their very own selves. I see things I will remember.
Turns out there is no joy shortage, there are no golden years, there is only abundance. Yes, the baby years are so, so sweet.
But it turns out - all the years are.
Because I also remember when they learned to walk and learned to talk and when they didn’t cry anymore when I left. I remember when they moved to their own beds and when they stopped nursing and when they learned to ride their bikes. I remember all the books we have read cuddled up and lazy Saturday breakfasts and making art.
I remember them cliff jumping and seeing them clearly beneath that crystal water.
I remember so many things as they have grown, things that show them as their own people with their own passions and personalities and stories and plans. And all those countless times I have felt only gratitude and amazement that I get to share and bear witness to their goodness and their aliveness. And all these memories they will join me too, when I am old, with my wrinkles and my old lady arms and my full heart.
these are the days
these are the days
these are the days.