Last week as I was driving in our car with its broken radio, I reached a minor epiphany. I've been so busy since Colin was born that there hasn't been much time for reflecting. I'm always caring for somebody and in the moments that I'm not, I'm taking care of myself. Jared and I are eating together and unwinding after putting the kids to bed. I'm watching that movie I wanted to see 2 years ago. The laundry is running, the vacuum cleaner is on, the oven is cooking our dinner. Company's coming over. Everything is constant motion and noise. I've been living in the eye of the hurricane for so long that I forgot that if I were to look out, I'd see the world spinning around me. It's thrilling. It's dizzying.
When I found myself flying down the highway in silence on a beautiful sunny day, everything slammed into me at once. I almost wanted to cry at all of the things that came bubbling up out of my subconscious. All I could think was, wow, this is so amazing. My life is so amazing. How did I ever find myself here? How can my menial life be so fulfilling?
Trust me. I know this sounds ridiculous. Younger-me would slap present-me in the face for saying things so saccharine and gushing. Truly. I know that this sounds cliche but I can't think of any other way to express this feeling of joy in this ordinary life that I've got.
Sometime this past year I started to truly see Oliver as a person. I never appreciated how smart and how perceptive he is until he started being able to communicate with me so well. I can drive the familiar routes to Grandma's house, to Chuck E Cheese's, to Target and he knows where we're going. If I take a detour or make a wrong turn he will speak up from the backseat, "Mom, you're going the wrong way!"
He interacts so lovingly with Colin. I take such pleasure in watching the two of them when they think they're alone. I came out of the shower one afternoon to find Oliver nose to nose with Colin. He was whispering,
"Don't go back in Mom's belly again, Colin. I like you. Stay here with me."
Colin is here is because of Oliver. We didn't want Oliver to be alone. We wanted Oliver to have somebody to love and share life with, somebody who is on his level who's got a similar perspective. Now he's got that. It sounds silly but they're already friends. I can see how they respond to each other in such an organic, easy way. It is amazing to watch how naturally they take to each other. Nothing is forced. They just somehow know that they're together and that they belong that way. Colin smiles if Oliver even glances in his direction. Oliver comes running if he hears Colin beginning to cry. "It's okay, Colin. Are you hungry? Do you want to see my trucks? Here, here's your blanket."
Having raised Oliver through infancy and babydom, I can now see and appreciate more intelligence in Colin. He still can't do much but I notice the way he is always watching us. I speak to him and he stares so intensely at me that I can feel his thoughts. I know he's trying to process what I'm saying. I know that the coos and the smiles are just the tiniest tip of the iceberg of what will come from him, because I've seen it once before. I know what's coming. I know there's that spark inside of him somewhere that will one day explode and knock me flat on my back in sudden realization one ordinary Thursday afternoon. Maybe in another couple of years I will be driving in a car with a broken radio and it will be Colin who breaks the silence to say, "Mom, you're going the wrong way!"
To think that I created these people and constructed this life for them is amazing. That I'm even a small part responsible for who those people are and who they will become is mind-blowing. I always thought that the "one person can make a difference" line was a bunch of kumbayah fed to children. But it isn't. I am making the world better by putting my kids into it and I can see that now. I'm doing my best at helping them to become the best people they can be and I feel so proud of myself. A family is such a plain, ordinary gift to the world, but I'm giving it. I know the world will be better for it.
Last month Jared & I celebrated our one year anniversary. We've been a family for longer than a year but it's been one year of our legal union. That morning when I woke up next to Jared, and the words "Happy Anniversary" stuck to the roof of my mouth like peanut butter. It was so bizarre to think about. It went so fast. The date snuck up on me and jumped out from behind the door frame to shout, "SURPRISE! Remember your wedding? Yeah. That was over a year ago."
My hand still forgets to sign my new name. My tongue forgets the word "husband" and slips back to the familiar "boyfriend." Yet somehow there is a permanent indentation around my ring finger. There's a smiling baby boy who wasn't there before. There is a roof above my head that we bought and turned into our home. The evidence is there if I look, but it's still hard to believe.
Old people were always spouting platitudes about how fast life goes by. As a kid you never want to believe it. You don't want to think that the old timers know better than you. You feel like time lasts for forever because it seems that school will never let out for the summer, that you'll never get your driver's license, and you'll never turn 21. But then you stop looking ahead to the future and start noticing the things happening around you in the present and suddenly time washes over you and sweeps you away.
I never thought I'd be this way, but here I am, and I'm so glad. This lifestyle is so intoxicating.