She finds me after taking a tumble outside, and I can smell it on her - summer worn like a sprinkling of the sweetest perfume. Her filthy feral feet still fit in the palm of my hand. Her sweaty, sand-speckled curls damp against my cheek and the heaviness of her soft toddler body fully relaxed against my chest.
I've loved toddlers before and they all feel and smell the same - like they almost don't belong here, some kind of otherworldly humanity that you stumble on. A surprise. The fierce might of their predictably unpredictable moods tempered just so with the sweet innocence of the full knowledge of being completely and unceasingly adored - strange paradoxical creatures, toddlers.
I could say the same about all the ages of childhood. The budding independence of the later childhood years mixed with that still-present need to occasionally curl up on Mama's lap like a baby. And the baby, in all her newborn glory - needy little thing that she is - I could stare at her for hours. Exclaim to my husband like the 6 times before, "Just look at her, will you? She's amazing! She's perfect! Look at her eyelashes/hair/lips/ears/whatever! Just look!!"
The six and four year old boys, just emerging into the dirt encrusted brand of intensity that is maleness at this age while maintaining this allegiance to Mama that melts my heart. The insane things they come up with when left to their own devices amaze and confound me and drive me up the wall - but it's all good, all growth and all opportunity to learn something new.
These summer kid days are long but the years are short and I can't pin them down. I can't hold them in my hand or slow the clock and honestly, I wouldn't want to. Watching them grow is a privilege and a joy, something I try not to lose sight of when life gets intense.
These exhausting, long, precious days are a gift. These people - my greatest joy, frustration, hope and inspiration.
This swift passing life, this season of youth and joy, these moments being all things to all people just by being their Mama - all are a path I'm grateful to have walked.
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