How do we find ourselves here, playing at being adults? When the freedom of the swings still beckons; the wind catches us just right, making us wonder at Neverland.
Did someone forget to give me my manual? Who flipped the switch without alerting me and when? I wake early and stand confused in the living room, taking in the house, the family it holds- my house, my family. I forget in odd moments that I am now the mother, wife, teacher, the culpable one. Plodding into the bathroom I am often startled by my reflection. The familiarity of my features now bears the veil of responsibility; the map of our daily life etched into the supple skin above my brow and around my lips. I wonder if others can look beyond the dewey, sleep-deprived exterior and see the secrets I keep inside. Do they see the child behind my eyes? The girl who still lays in the grass staring at shapes in the clouds, who imagines herself as the heroin of some unsung fantasy? Can they sense the confusion and bewilderment that often underlies the confident exterior I dress in when I leave the house?
One day, not too long ago, we were discussing homework assignments and boys and parties and then all of a sudden the talk turned to baby games, diaper rash cures and breastfeeding. I much prefer these latter conversations. I am more relaxed in my brain and body then my teenage self could ever claim to be. I would rather share gardening tips and recipes then worry about reputations and hallway chatter. Still, I wonder: How did this happen right under our noses?
I don’t find my role a burden. The weight of responsibility does not hang too heavy on my shoulders. Instead, I am lifted by the magnitude of it all; held aloft by the outstretched hand of a steady partner as we fly, soaring on the sight of a delighted grin as we are swept through a carwash or come across a train passing us in the dark. I shiver at the sheer joy I feel from the movements inside of me; baffled and exalted by the fullness I felt when she uttered the phrase “your boys.”
There are still moments when the light reflected from a dew drop startles me into waking, as if I have been asleep for a long time but I find myself enchanted and fulfilled from the life I find myself in. At times I become overwhelmed by the unknowns that lurk ahead of us but most days I am too busy to dwell on such things. Instead, I am excited by the changes that are headed our way and find myself becoming nostalgic as the summer intensifies. A simple answer to my queries about breakfast: “How about…pancakes,” reminds me that this will be my last summer as a mother to a single child. Trips to the park seem easier these days, as I imagine similar outings next summer with two boys in tow. Our family is growing and my heart becomes engorged as it swells and takes it all in.
But I still check my mail everyday, wondering if someone simply forgot to send me my manual.