Little voices, tiny hands. Baby hair still wisps, framing round faces. Wide-eyed. They move, and squirm, roll and tumble. And I try to quiet them, but they are alive with energy. Full of life.
We read on the blue rug, I’ll Love You Forever. As I begin to form words on the tongue, I can feel the tears welling behind the wall I’ve built. My game face. Trying to be strong for everyone. Not wanting to let emotions show. Making this about them, not me.
Their sing-songy lilt joins mine with the refrain, I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, My baby you’ll be. I focus on the words- the pictures, as I read. Remembering those infant days twelve short years ago when I thought I would never again be able to do another thing but sit and hold an infant. When I took walks up and down the river-road, trying to console that colicky baby-boy. Holding him tightly, fearing the worst. Bundling, swaddling, comforting, adoring. And I remember. Those crazy days led on. To crazy days with two. And how much more mischief can two get into. Both into cupboards pouring out boxes of cereal on the floor, smearing Vaseline all over the couch. Baby voices then, calling me, hugging me, wanting me. Oh, the tender joy to hold chubby, little hands. And yet, there were times. I wanted to put them in the zoo. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, My baby you’ll be.
I remember still. The days are not so long and far removed from now. When there were three- and four. Could a heart hold that much love? Days of highs and lows, of joys and sorrows. Days when they walked through the house as if they owned it, full of spitfire and gumption. Of battles over clothing, movies, free time, chores. Sibling rivalries. Of embarrassing parents who like to tell stories. Of wanting to be close, but pushing away. These days of feeling like I am in the zoo. Of sulky stares and stolen hugs. Those days are now. And yet. This I know for sure. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, My baby you’ll be.
And some nights, when they are really asleep, I tip-toe into their rooms and I touch their cheeks with a mother’s kiss. Tucking the blankets around their slumbering bodies. Holding them close in my heart. And I know then, as I know always. That I will love them forever.
As long as I’m living, my babies they’ll be.