May 02, 2006

Cleaning Closets

My Sass is a girly-girl. I didn't raise her that way -- at least not intentionally. Oh sure -- she loves to ride her trike and climb (you should see her on a rock climbing wall -- like a little spider!) She makes mud in her sandbox, and builds towers sky-high. We have more balls in this house than we can count and if she can talk you into playing a quick game of catch (or rather a game of throw the ball wildly around the room while shrieking and running in circles) she's thrilled. She's got a room full of gender-neutral toys, but at heart? She loves the softer side of life. Yesterday she spent a half hour arranging the tulips she picked in the yard in a glass of water, then spent the rest of the day admiring them.

As the weather has been warming, she's been discovering her summer dresses that have been hanging in her closet all winter. Each morning she goes down to the kitchen and drags her stepstool upstairs to her closet so that she can get a closer look as she selects the day's apparel. There is a step stool in her room, mind you, but the one in the kitchen is taller and she needs to inspect the material and color closely before deciding, apparently.

Yesterday, she chose an old fashioned, handmade dress complete with lace, puffy sleeves, and a matching apron. My mother in law brought the dress -- about a size 3T -- for her when she was 6 months old. I remember looking it over thinking It will be forever until she fits into this.

Turns out it was just overnight.

I swear this child was just a baby 10 minutes ago. I swear she was just taking her cautious, high knee first steps. I look at pictures of her -- round and babyish -- and her legs so chubby I could never put proper baby shoes on them. Now her long, coltish legs sprawl on the sofa as she chugs her chocolate milk before diving back into play. We have conversations about important things and I find myself carefully measuring my words -- trying to be sure of the lessons I want to impart on her. My baby has turned in to a kid, and I don't know how because I've been here the whole time.

Their dressers are small, so today I sorted out winter clothing and moved the spring clothing in. I pulled out a box for Party Girl and began looking through the hand-me-downs. As I fingered the soft, watermelon print capris and the gingham dresses I sighed. These were the clothes that Sass was wearing the summer I got pregnant with PG. How is it possible that Party Girl is big enough to wear clothing Sass just grew out of? Then I have to remind myself that Sass grew out of these a year ago, and Party Girl is indeed almost the same age Sass was two summers ago.

Time -- it doesn't just fly. It barrels. It bolts. It makes off with precious minutes and days and I scold myself for taking advantage of it. Some days I can't wait until the girls are in bed. I hurry the day on and sneak them upstairs 15 minutes early. And then when I flop on the couch, finally alone, I wonder what my hurry was. Why do I wish time with them away when time is already so fleeting?

Each morning after breakfast I set the girls up for playtime, then usually busy myself with morning chores, trying to get it all done so I can devote the afternoon to play time. Today I tucked myself into the loveseat and just watched them instead.

Party Girl is walking everywhere now in her halting, side-stepping sort of way. She keeps walking by and saying, "Hi. Hi. Hi. Bow-ee. Hi." And then gives me a toothy smile and wanders away. Her eyes are bright and blue and she plays with gusto -- grabbing the heaviest baby in the room and trying to lift her into the tall baby bed -- grunting and jabbering the whole time.

And Sass. Sass climbs right inside the toy box and begins rediscovering all the toys that have fallen to the bottom. When it's empty, she closes the lid and teases her sister who can't seem to figure out where she's gone. Then she kicks the lid open with her feet and says mysteriously "Everyone to the forest!" and then lets the lid slam shut again, laughing wildly.

Later I get kisses from them both -- Party Girl's are open and sloppy and you've got to watch her because if you let her kiss on you too long she's likely to bite. Sass kisses your shoulder, your arm, your hair, but rarely your face or lips because that's just how she is.

When I was young, my mom had a music box with a young woman holding a baby with a young girl standing behind her, tucked into her skirts. The song it played was called "Turn Around" and it went something like this:

Where are you going my little one, little one
Where are you going my baby, my own
Turn around and you're tiny
Turn around and you're grown
Turn around and you're a young mom with babes of her own.

I want to enjoy the sweetness of this time -- their babyhood. I think to myself this is the youngest they'll ever be. I know that in a few months, a year, maybe two, I'll have to go back to work and life will never be like this again. And I know that when I look back on my life -- I'll mark these years as some of the most precious.

Time. I can't stop it, but I can be present in it.


Blogger Kristin said...

Oh, that song makes me teary!

I love this post and I totally hear you... my eldest child turned 9 this year and when I thought about how fast these 9 years have gone and in 9 more he will be 18, well, let's just say somebody cried a little on her boy's birthday.

May 03, 2006 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Oh gosh, I just heard that song again the other day -- my mom used to sing it when we were little and I'd completely forgotten about it -- and it had me sobbing (of course the pregnancy hormones might have something to do with that -- I was crying at a bank commercial this morning). It's a cliche, but it's so true. They grow up so fast.

May 03, 2006 12:49 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

I know time is fleeting. I'm amazed when I look at photos of Sass throughout the past year. She's gone from a chubby-cheeked toddler to a little girl in no time at all. But with each passing stage comes an amazing new one.

May 03, 2006 9:34 PM  

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