My image of the two greatest humans on planet Earth will always be the above photo. Those little toes I used to tickle while singing a song called "Tickle Toes", those sweet little cheeks I would kiss, those funny little voices filled with enthusiasm and energy and creative imaginations, the only two people to have called me "mom".
For two decades, I have been a mom. If I close my eyes, I can still remember the very first time I heard the heartbeat on the doppler. With Morgan, I remember thinking, "wow, it's so fast". With Dylan, I remember because the doctor thought I had an ectopic pregnancy and when we finally heard that heartbeat, we thought we'd received a miracle.
These two changed my life. In some ways, they were the beginning of my life. I barely remember the world before they existed. Who was I then? What significance was there in my existence before my name changed to "Mom"?
Do you ever look at a photograph and wish you could jump into it for a little while? I just want to jump into this picture of my children and hang out with them for an hour or so. I want to hear their laughter and smell their heads. I want to jump into the pool and play our funny game called "Poop in the Pool" and then sit on the deck around the fire pit and make s'mores while we tell stories.
Then I remember the day this photo was taken. It was only two days after discovering that their daddy had stage four, highly aggressive, completely incurable blood cancer with a 98% chance of dying within five years. It's easy to forget the reality of life when you see family photographs. In photos, you put on your very best. You create the illusion of happiness and capture an image of life. Image is everything, right? And today, in this very overly obsessed world of social media, wherever you look, folks are putting out the image of perfection.
I cannot imagine what our lives would have been like had lymphoma not entered the picture. But it doesn't really matter because it did enter and it took up residency like it owned the place. It took my husband and changed his image from strong and athletic and happy to bald and gray and sick and almost dead. And those two innocent babies had to watch it all. They were fully aware and forced to grow up way too soon.
But guess what! They were given a great opportunity too. They got to see their daddy go from strong and athletic to sick and almost dead to strong and athletic once again. They had the opportunity to learn about sickness and dying way too soon, but they also had the opportunity to be first-hand witnesses to heroism.
I am coming to the end of my time as full-time mom. My youngest is about to graduate and head off to college just like his sister. I understand that being a mom is forever. They won't stop needing me any time soon. They especially need my money! But I only have a short time to go of making sure his laundry is done and he has had something to eat. My nights this coming August will be back to just Bill and me. After two decades of taking care of my babies, how will I handle that?
Jump in for a moment. Just a moment. That's all I really want. One moment in that photo. Enough time for a big hug and to hear those voices. It's such a great paradox, this being a parent thing. Your greatest joy and your greatest burden all in one. Although I know I'm still going to be a mom after May 29 (graduation day), it won't be the same. Ever again. We will continue to create new memories. There will be plenty of new photos taken and 20 years from now, I will want to jump into those for a moment I'm sure.
But for today, I look at that photo above and miss the two kids in it. The word "love" took on a whole new meaning when they came along. Now, I'm going to close my eyes and jump into that photo for a moment. I'll be back shortly.