“I can’t believe he’s starting school tomorrow,” I said.
“I know, it snuck up on us. I’m trying to wrap my head around it.”
We continued to fold laundry. In one pile I put away clothing that the children have outgrown. Joaquin’s 3 -6 onesies formed into a small mountain, leaving room in the drawers for the 6-9 month onesies he now fits into comfortably.
Our house is so small that I am not allowed to linger or hoard as my children shed their skins. Clothes, toys, momentos are recycled back into the world. I hold on to a few precious items – a pair of blue jean overalls embroidered with pink roses that Zaviera wore when she was a baby, a pair of white shoes that Sol never fit into – I don’t know how I choose or why I choose at all. It isn’t rational. I wish I could hold on to more but our living situation forces us into a constant, ever-shifting present. We don’t have room to fill our space with the past.
I gathered up my piles of laundry and felt that edge of sadness just beneath my skin, the letting go that parenthood seems to bring in wave after wave. After I had finished putting away Sol’s clothing I stood over him while he was sleeping and watched him.
It is hard to imagine that five years ago today I held him in my arms for the first time. He was born weighing 5 pounds 7 ounces, a wee Yoda of a man whose intensity was right there in his eyes, in his tiny balled fists, in the way he required being held against my breast for nearly the first six months of his life almost non-stop. I look back at it now and wonder if my heartbeat served as an anchor, as something he could return to. The one constant thing he had known since his life began growing inside of me.
Tonight we took him to McDonald’s for his birthday (his choice) and as we sat at the table, I watched him precisely lick his icecream into a perfect sphere. He bit off the bottom of the cone and began to suck the icecream out – all very methodical, hardly a drop wasted. Next to me, Zaviera had managed to lick hers into a leaning, melting tower. Half of it had fallen onto her dress and as she attempted to clean her dress by sucking the icecream off. She ended up with icecream in her hair. Finally she got frustrated, picked up the soda cup, tried to take a sip and then promptly bit into the cup unleashing the last remaining soda across her dress.
Sol, uninterested in his sister’s chaos, finished his icecream. He wiped his mouth, picked up his drink, took a swig and said, “Mommy, I’m just washing the cold out of my mouth.”
In my lap Joaquin growled and mouthed his fist as if imagining what it would be like to get his hands on a burger.
For a moment – an intermission in the constant forward movement that is our lives – I sat in awe of my family.
I promised myself something tonight as I folded Sol’s clothing and thought about how he has suddenly become this gangly-limbed boy with big thoughts. I promised myself to try not to fear the way time seems to be rushing beneath us, carrying us forward on its back. Sometimes the roar of the wind is deafening and it takes all of my energy just to hold on. But every day there is an intermission, a point of calm where time doesn’t move and everything is still.
I want to trust in those intermissions. They are reminders that even as everything continues to shift and change, there is a calm in the center. As I packed away the clothes that my boy has outgrown and prepare for his drawers to be filled with school uniforms, I thought about him climbing up onto my bed after creche and saying, “Let’s have a little talk Mommy, just me and you.”
I am looking forward to more of those talks. I am looking forward to feeling the wild wind of Sol’s life as he charges forward.
I love you Mister Sol Clarke. I am so honored to share in this grand adventure with you.