Five months old, easy with his grins and gurgles and eyes wide open.
Five months old, utterly content in his fleece-blanketed bouncy seat but eager to be held at your hip, part of the conversation and the action at adult height.
Five months old. Almost nineteen months younger than my baby.
Spending three days and three nights with ten adults and seven kids, ranging from six years to five months, meant there were always climbers to stop, snacks to dole out, and babies to pass around like snuggly, smiling candy.
Abbey was thrilled to traipse around the house with two friends, playing dolls and scattering Polly Pockets and beads all over their “treehouse,” the loft at the top of our rented house.
Dylan made up half of the Dynamic Duo, running around with his recently-turned-two buddy, pushing trucks and scaling various pieces of furniture.
Even bedtime went smoothly.
Chilled wine sat in my glass at New Year’s Eve dinner, kids off playing after an earlier meal, and I realized things are shifting in our lives, that some of the difficult parts of having two very young children are fading into the past.
Nursing and pureed food and sippy cups with countless parts are memories.
Hopefully 2012 will be our last year of diapers.
Abbey is morphing into a little teacher, coaxing Dylan into her pretend games and helping with his socks and shoes, though there are still moments of frustration and sibling battles over important toys like old buttons or Mommy’s favorite scarf, dragged from the closet without permission.
Sipping Vouvray, I realized our lives, in some ways, are getting easier.
I should have felt elated, and perhaps accomplished, like I feel when I hit a certain point in a race, knowing I have hit my stride, turning up my music and enjoying the beat and the smiles of the runners around me.
But instead I remembered the feel of five months perching weightlessly on my arm, meeting my eyes in a wide, toothless grin.
The days of curling my babies into my arms and creating a universe of contentment on my hip are gone.
Each day that passes leads me from those moments into a time when they seek my arms mainly when their tears have already begun.
Their moments of contentment are busy and fun and perhaps leaning against my side to have a book read before running off to something new.
This phase is glorious; I could spend hours listening to Abbey meander through her imaginative adventures with the fictional Mit the Mouse or watching Dylan’s dinosaurs oversee his construction trucks.
But tears pricked at the back of my eyes, blinked back before falling.
For more than a moment I wished I could live my life in a split screen, moving through their childhoods into their own future adventures while keeping them safe and warm and under twenty pounds in my arms.
But instead I sang an extra song at bedtime, made sure their turtle nightlight was projecting the moon in a place Dylan could easily see, and softly closed the door before walking back to the laughter of our friends.