One thing no one told me would happen when I became a mother is that the love I would feel for my children would at times be very much like the love-sick, moony-eyed aching you feel when you first fall in love romantically. I expected to love my children. I had heard people say "you just can't understand how much you'll love them", and I believed them. I knew it would be powerful, but I didn't know that some days I'd feel like a fifteen year-old again... watery-kneed, heart racing, and sure that in the history of love, no one had ever experienced it quite like this. This feeling usually strikes in the dim light of an un-rushed morning, when everyone's peaceful and snuggly and warm. For a few minutes cuddling in bed, there's a sense of total perfection, and my heart feels like it might burst. I feel it, too, when one of the kids is sick, or when they've fallen asleep in the car and we have to carry them to bed, gently slipping their shoes off before tucking them in.
Too often that feeling goes unnoticed, or is pushed aside as we hurry-hurry-get-your-shoes-on-I-mean-it-get-back-here-NOYOUCANNOTHAVEASNACKRIGHTNOW through the hustle of our day. Yesterday night, though, was one of the rare occasions on which the weather was perfect, when we didn't have anywhere to go or anything in particular to do. All the neighbors on our little cul-de-sac were out enjoying the weather and the end of the holiday weekend, and Oliver and Judah ran around like a couple of boys - our boys - until well past their bedtimes.
I had a shoot yesterday afternoon, and didn't really intend to take any more pictures yesterday evening, but as I sat listening to the crickets and the birds, as the sun set and that pink-gold light descended on the circle, as I watched Judah delight in the bubbles our neighbor was humoring him with, I felt that fuzzy swoon, and wanted nothing more than to document it the best way I know how.
I remember one time getting Oliver - then only one or two - out of the car in a parking lot in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. I was soaking wet, we were late for wherever it was we needed to go, and Ollie was pitching a fit, trying desperately to prevent me from dragging him out of the safety of the warm, dry interior of the car. A woman who was probably sixty or sixty-five pulled into the space beside me, hopped out of her car under a big umbrella, and as she walked unfettered to wherever she was going, smiled sweetly at me and said, "One day you'll miss times like these". I would've laughed if I hadn't been so miserable, but I knew there was a grain of truth to what she said. Even now, the many challenges, inconveniences, and difficulties of parenthood fade in comparison with the joy that it brings. Sometimes that joy runs quietly beneath the surface; other times it overflows.
When I'm old and am left to nothing but my memories, this is where I want to live: in the total contentment of an early summer evening with my boys, chasing bubbles.