Astounded

The Next Family

By: Barbara Matousek

There was a moment in the middle of the night when I turned over and felt astounded by my life, Sam’s three-year-old legs digging themselves under one side of me while Eva’s head was tucked under my arm on the other side.   I adjusted my spine and peered in the dark towards Eva’s face, hoping she was sound enough asleep that the movement wouldn’t wake her, and I was startled to find her staring up at me, her big eyes glinting from the moonlight through the window.

On the day my sister’s son was born nearly ten years ago, Zack’s unfocused newborn eyes looked up at me, and I felt like he was looking right down to my soul, as if he recognized me from some place.  And I knew then that I wanted to have children of my own.  This year he turns ten and it’s already been years since his little sister Sarah declared that they are not babies are more, they are kids.

Sam is sounding out letters a lot these days.  In the car on the way to town he points out what he sees… “Mommy,” he says “B-b-b bump.  T-t-t tractor.  C-c-c cow.”  This morning he wanted to know what letter made the “pl” sound.

“Pl-pl-pl plant, Mommy.  What letter is pl-pl-pl?”

“P-p-p,”  I said.  “That’s the P sound.  P-p-p and then l-l-l.  P-p-p-l-l-l. P-l.”

“And then a-a-a like Auntie Ann,” he said and I had to turn the rear view mirror to look at him.  My big boy.

Last night before he fell asleep I crawled into bed with him and we talked about the people we love, our family.  He told me that he LOVES Auntie Ann and Zack and Sarah.  He told me he misses them.  We haven’t seen them since February, and as I lay there looking at Sam’s face in the glow of the nightlight I thought about how fast Sam is growing up, how fast Eva is growing up, how fast Zack and Sarah got to be kids, how much I wish I could slow it all down.

I sleep now with my back twisted, sometimes holding Eva’s head up while she nurses, sometimes holding an arm around on the other side of her so she doesn’t fall out of the bed.  Sam generally crawls in with us around 3am, tossing limbs here and there without waking.

“Hi there,” I said, and Eva continued to stare at me, her face frozen.

“Hi there Sweetie,” I said again.  “Are you okay?  What’s going on?”  And she didn’t move.  My eyes adjusted and her face came in to better focus and she looked as if she couldn’t take her eyes off me.  And this was the moment.  The moment I couldn’t have imagined ten years ago.  I reached up and touched Eva on the nose.  She was warm and she smiled and I was astounded by how much I love these two little people.

 

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