These past few weeks have been quite the mixed bag. For The Beast To Please, my newest release, became an Amazon bestseller. That’s the first time I’d seen an official bestseller tag attached to one of my books, and the feeling was ecstatic. I danced around the house in a way guaranteed to embarrass both my children and my husband. Yet, the basement flooded and the car finally gasped its mechanical dying breath. That’s life for you, frustration and elation wobbling both sides of the seesaw.
And I looked up to see my children were somehow older.
Max is three. Lou is about to turn five. There’s a big box in their closet that’s overflowing with clothes that no longer fit them. Baby clothes. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but they’re not babies anymore. Even though I see them every day, their surprising leaps into maturity still catch me off guard sometimes. We took some of those clothes into a resale shop earlier this week so someone else could have a turn with them. Those 12 and 18 month clothes were exchanged for 4t and 5t garments. I enjoyed watching them pick out what they liked best, what sparkled, what was their favorite color, but it was the very definition of bittersweet. My girls- they’re getting more independent every day. My husband warned me that someday, hopefully far from now, I will pick each of my children up for the last time. I won’t even know it when it happens. They’ll be permanently on their own two feet. I’m psyched because I know they’ll be ready, they’re confident and resilient, but mournful that it will mark the ending of a period in our lives that I thoroughly enjoyed and know I will miss.
I picked Max up last night while she was groggily sleepy and carried her to the bathroom. While I did so I whispered, “Mommy loves you, Max.” To my surprise she murmured back, “Max loves her Mommy.” She’s three. I was impressed with her emotional intelligence, her diction.
Lou, just today as I drove the two of them to preschool, asked if we were driving up a hill. “It’s like a mountain,” she said, to which I responded, “Um hum.” Then she asked, “Have people been climbing mountains for centuries?” I said they have and explained how many years were in a century, how that is a very long time. She asked me if I ever climbed a mountain.
A physical one? No. I rock climbed a cliff face, just once, but it was no mountain. My career is a mountain in front of me that I look forward to exploring deeper. But the biggest, most challenging mountain I see in my life right now is my children’s childhood, and I’m only the guide. Eventually, ten maybe fifteen years down the road I’m going to have to trust that I’ve given them the right directions to forge the path of their own choosing. I see how far they’ve come already, and the emotions are equal parts pride and nostalgia. How did we get here so fast? Have I done everything right? Do they know that they’re loved unconditionally, without bars set for achievement or beauty? God, I hope so.
As much as I want to work, to write, to follow the success of this current book with an even stronger next one, I’m constantly reminding myself to look up from the computer screen and watch those sweet girls grow. My writing? It’ll be there. It’s only going to mature as I keep reading and honing my craft. My kids? They won’t wait. They can’t. That mountain path is calling them higher, and they’re so anxious to stretch their legs.