“Listen–are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” (Mary Oliver, “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches”).
The cicadas are falling. Cool breezes offset the August heat. The light is softer, and we’ve stopped wearing sunscreen on ventures outdoors. The beach is empty, as we count the airplanes in the sky in lieu of boats and people. Ian ‘mows’ the grass as the flowers have their last hurrah. I squeeze Duncan into one of the 100’s of outfits someone bought him that he just never had the occasion to wear amid the heat.
Days tumble by.
Until recently, my leave felt like some sort of extended summer break, but now the waning sunlight and the back-to-school pictures jamming up my Instagram feed start to feel just plain eerie. Like, am I supposed to be somewhere I’m not? At times I feel like I should be frantically memorizing names, creating seating charts, and reviewing IEP’s. But here I sit verbally preparing Ian for the next transition, negotiating with him, and making silly noises to crack Duncan up. In some ways, it’s not unlike teaching freshman.
Ian is both a small baby wanting to be held (“pick up, pick up”) and a mature college student, advising me on series of life matters. I was driving down Sheridan Road stuck behind a very slow tractor when Ian authoritatively suggested, “Momma, pass it.’ And, I suddenly did. Another day, walking past our favorite snack store, I explained we couldn’t get anything as I was wallet-less, and Ian, not buying it said, ‘Momma, Apple Pay.’
In this vain, Ian’s vocabulary continues to explode. I wish I could study and record each gradual shift into pronouns, and the accumulations of verbs. And there is as well all of his adorable mispronunciations of almost every single word when he first tries it.
But, alas my brain is mush. Duncan’s sleeping has become a scene from a sitcom— he likes to eat all night instead of during the day. This will be remedied soon with the sleep training advised in the hordes of sleeping books I read in preparation for his birth.
But, other than this, I continue the days relishing small things. A leaf turning orange. An arm newly able to grab a toy. An extra ounce consumed. A verb mastered. And in focusing on the small things instead of the big (weeks, days, events) time races by, wonderfully easy and sweet, and we are taking big breaths and calling it a most full life.