People said this would happen: time would accelerate to an unpalatable pace once we had kids. I didn’t really believe them because these were the same people that told me the weight would “melt” off once the baby was born.
My babies turned three years old last week. My five-pound early babies can dress themselves (almost), use the potty (one of them), and offer their opinions on just about everything (constantly).
As well, my 20-year college reunion is coming up quickly. How speedily the years go by; yet how little time has passed when I think of who I was 20 years ago, who I am now. The space of so many years collapses upon itself: I am still insecure at parties, still think too much about my weight, still cherish a late night with wine and girlfriends. And I still love some of the same people. I suppose that is the measure of time well spent.
A month before Molly’s first birthday, we took a trip to Mystic, Connecticut. The year had been long and dark at times for me–my husband and I fought a lot, and I cried over nothing often. Getting away to a room beside the river was a needed fix. Cover your ears if you are squeamish, but I am pretty sure this is where the twins were conceived.
We found out I was pregnant the morning of Molly’s first birthday party (which was at an Irish bar of course). I remember thinking how grown up all the little ones looked–barely walking, shoving fists of cake in their mouths, still weaning from the boob. We were in a rush for them to become toddlers. What did I know as a mother of one?
Molly was 19 months old when the twins were born. We brought Ellie home first with us and Henry the next day. It was cold and raining, and in our excitement, delirium and frazzled state of being, I forgot to bring clothes with us to the hospital–not just his “coming home outfit,” but any clothes. The stellar nurses in Cornell’s Continuing Care Nursery put kimono shirts on Henry’s legs and layered him with blankets.
The twins were tiny; Molly was enormous to us. Just a year and one-half, and she looked different to me when we came back from the hospital. I couldn’t imagine her any bigger or smarter or prettier. She was almost a little girl. What did I know?
I hope you can pardon the random arrangement of photos in this post. In my mind it was like this–we were parents of one baby whom we rocked to sleep in the glider each night; then there were three babies in diapers, each needing to be rocked and comforted. And then a memory of learning to nurse, of strapping Molly in her infant carseat, or of lying in bed with morning sickness comes in. Or of telling our families we are having twins when we could barely say the words ourselves.
Suddenly we are the parents of three little children who either know how, or are learning to write their names coherently and who ask for their breakfast on their favorite plates.
And then I am 21 again, at college graduation. Hungover from Senior Week, scared for the future, wanting with naive desperation to change everything about my world and myself. Saying goodbyes on a vast lawn in the shadow of centuries-old buildings, promising to keep in touch. Waiting for inspiration to begin my new adult life, not realizing my desire is always, even then, for things to stay the same. What did I know?
We are waiting now to hear about kindergarten for September. I am checking the mail with ferocious anticipation–as I did once for college acceptances, then from graduate schools. Nothing has come. But I am receiving notices of the reunion this June. Pictured in one brochure are alumni reliving the good times, renewing friendships and revisiting those places that haunt the memory for decades. I will not be at my reunion; a dear friend from college is having a baby and I want to be there instead. The past and the present occupy the same space at times.
This week I signed a writing contract, I wrote a scathing email to the Department of Education; I sat with my three year olds on a stoop eating bagels and cream cheese; I napped as the sun was setting and my husband bathed the kids; I sent a note of sympathy that will change nothing; and I dreamed, oddly, of the black Mustang I drove throughout college.
As I write, alone in my kitchen this warm Saturday afternoon, NPR is on in the background; specifically, Paul Simon is singing “Still Crazy After All These Years.” And that is my point.