I have this funny little reminder to myself about scheduling yearly doctor checkups for the girls. When I used to be home on Fridays I took great care to make sure that I could schedule all those necessary appointments on that day so that I didn’t have to take off work to do them. Our pediatrician’s office opens up scheduling appointments three months from the date so I always knew that when I needed to schedule that mid-August checkup I should call around Mother’s Day. Any earlier and the doctor’s schedule wasn’t inputted, any later, and I was dodging around her vacation schedule and back-to-school physicals and everyone else with plans similar to mine. Her birthday symbolizes the summer drawing to a close. Scheduling her yearly checkup means summer is almost here.
Once F came into the picture in mid-July I started scheduling those appointments together, splitting the distance. Yesterday I thought briefly that it was almost time to call for a date. Summer – in temperature and time – is racing towards us. Being so busy means this spring is a bit of a blur. It came early, and try as we might, there just haven’t been enough opportunities to take evening strolls around the park, or stop for ice cream. We’ve seen a lot of tulips, but I need to still find the time for the iris, and the lilies, and the late spring garden before the hot, humid weather pushes us into air conditioned spaces. We’re in the last quarter of the year – at least the way I think of it in this family. The winding down of the school schedule, the winding down of another birth year. Someone told me a story about a little girl who was so specific about her age that she answered in quarter years – “I’m two-and-three-quarters” – and I realized that F is that now. She likely won’t adopt that phrase, she’s convinced that she goes straight from two-and-a-half to four, but her third year of life – age two – is coming to a close, and before we know it she’ll be blowing out three candles, proud as can be.
I want to freeze them both, right now. Years from now when this house grows quiet I will wish them back. I will want to be working in the kitchen and looking out to the living room where E sits immersed in her latest novel, oblivious to her surroundings. I will wake for the day and get ready for work and have to retrain my ear to not listen for sounds of stirring above me. I will miss the sounds of F talking herself into waking each morning. Even in a few short years / months / weeks I know that I will miss coming into her nursery and seeing her laying at one end of the bed, feet on the rails, singing to herself the good morning song. I would freeze those moments of exasperation too – we have them each day, and M and I share them to both sympathize and laugh at the same time. There seems to be a lot of yelling – we work on volume control and inside voices – but there are also moments of great peace and continuity. F tells her sister, “I’m glad you are my sissy,” and her sister melts – we all do. She may try to escape your grasp one more time and race to the top of the ladder for one last slide long after you’ve announced that you’re leaving the park, but once she settles into her car seat and you pull away from the curb she always, always says (unprompted), “Thank you, Daddy, for taking us to the playground.” E begs for more time to read at night, and occasionally I join her. I want to join her always, reading silently next to one another.
Perhaps I put too much stock in a number. Are nine and three really that much different than eight and two? I know the answer is yes and no. It’s not a light switch, it’s a progression, and not a steady one. It lingers and then races and then it’s gone. That’s probably why I think of it in quarters, in seasons. When summer rolls around transition is close at hand.
I want to stay longer here in spring.