Chris and I had one of our music nights recently. Get your mind out of the gutter, not that kind of night ;). We sit on the back porch while listening to mellow music and talk about life: our kids, our worries, our hopes, our joys and sorrows.
He told me how difficult it is for him to drop Claire off every morning for school. I wasn't quite on the same page because I immediately interrupted him to say I could drop her off if it's an issue for him getting to work on time. I'm sure he'll deny it, but my guy teared up. Ahhhhhh, that kind of difficult. Seeing Claire in her new role as a Kindergarten student, sitting in the cafeteria with her too-big backpack, big girl hair cut and serious face, has made him realize how fast she is growing up and how little time we have left with her as a kid who still thinks her mom and dad are the universe. I've been telling him for quite a while how fast time is going and he didn't quite get it until this past week. While I was sniveling like a baby on her first day of school, he was still a solid rock. But it eventually hit him. It hit him hard and nearly knocked his breath away: Claire is growing up.
It was my turn to be the strong parent. I told him how I have to approach this thing called parenthood. Yes, I miss rocking Claire to sleep as a baby. But now, I get to enjoy cuddling with her in bed as she tells me funny stories or shares with me her worries. Yes, I miss spending my days from beginning to end with her. But now, I truly cherish that quiet time where it's just her and me, doing whatever it may be, while the twins are taking their afternoon nap. Yes, I miss taking Claire for for long walks in the stroller, talking about all the things we would see. But now, I look forward to finding Claire Love Notes; little sticky notes she leaves me all over the house, pictures of the two of us with hearts fluttering above our stick figures. Yes, I miss the mornings where we used to walk Chris out and wave and wave until his car disappeared around the bend, holding hands while we walked back into the house. But now, I get to wave, and Claire and I have a new game where we take turns shouting "LOVE YOU!!!" over and over until we can no longer hear each other (I'm sure our neighbors love that;)).
Chris pointed out that on the weekends, while the twins are sleeping in, Claire likes to cuddle with us in our bed. She won't want to do that in few years, he worried. Yes, but in a few years we'll be able to enjoy her in a new way, I explained. We have to tuck away these special memories The Way Claire Was When and not mourn them but cherish them and look forward to The Way Claire Will Be.
Claire has these little boxes that she tucks her treasures into: shells, flowers, dress up rings. I have my own little box in my heart that I tuck my Claire Treasures into: Claire sleeping in her purple 'coming home' outfit, Claire toddling towards me taking her first steps, Claire trying to blow out her candles at her 'purple party', Claire chasing a duck at the petting zoo, Claire snuggling with me in my bed with her cold feet, Claire's nervous smile on the first day of kindergarten...these are my treasures. And I have plenty of room for the treasures to come.
Treasure: Chris and Claire dancing on Father's Day 2008