I’d found myself there on that couch a couple hours prior. The two oldest were still at school, the barely-a-baby-anymore was napping. There was an hour, at best, before the noise would drown out the quiet again. So I plopped myself on the couch with my laptop. The screen was blank. Time stood still. I looked up, around, pondered many things. Deep questions about the meaning of life surfaced in those moments of quiet. What is the purpose of my life? How can I strip away the excess, the clutter, the unnecessary? How do I go about freeing space and time to make room for the filling of my soul? Why have I been given all this while others live in pieced-together mud, metal and sticks? My eyes were open as wide as they’d been, and I knew, it’s possible to live fully alive, receive without question every beautiful thing under the big, bright sun.
Two hours later, sunlight streamed in on that same spot. The 11-year-old tween played Minecraft to my left, the 8-year-old had gone to play with a friend, which left me and barely-a-baby-anymore with nothing to do but listen to her favorite song, “Mahna Mahna,” on my iPhone.
I sat her in my lap sideways so I could see her still-baby face. Sun came through the window behind her. Her hair glistened, glowed. Snot ran down her button nose and I could see every fuzzy baby hair on her face.
I looked down. Her baby feet were right at my hands. I grabbed them one at a time, one for each hand. She didn’t seem to notice, she didn’t seem to mind. I kissed those still-baby toes, breathed in the unforgettable fragrance of baby feet that’d been in socks all day. A tiny chip of pink nail polish on her big toe reminded me she’s not going to be this little for long. A mama of three knows truth the third time around.
I watched her push the buttons, she’d found a new song. Away went the phone, hidden forever behind my back.
I lifted her in one little swoop and laid her on my legs. Her whole baby body still fit comfortably between my knees and my waist. She bent at the hips, lifted her legs like an infant-baby, and there at my hands were her feet. I grabbed those feet, used them to cover my face, and peered through to the sliver of her baby face that remained. My eye met hers. I broke her feet open wide and we played peek-a-boo many times ’round. A mama of three knows peek-a-boo feet is for babies, babies alone.
We giggled and wiggled in joy and delight. I had triple my fair share of kissing baby toes in the sunlight.
I knew this game would only last so long. So I turned her again, cradled her tight like a baby, tickled up her belly, all the way to her neck. She giggled. I rocked her in tight. It was a beautiful dance, this tickling, giggling, rocking, tightening all close.
Before I released her baby body, I cradled her tight, rocked her like I did 12-15-18-24 months ago. And I saw the baby, the toddler, the big girl. I saw myself, my husband, I saw the woman she’ll be. I took it all in, this holding tight, cradling my barely-a-baby-anymore girl. Because a mama of three knows, it won’t be long before that baby body’ll turn big – the lifting, carrying, cradling will be all but a memory captured in the recesses of her heart.
Six hours later, I find myself on that same spot on the couch, alone. The questions, the ponderings about life remain. The light no longer shines in. The night is dark and the wind howls in the polar vortex of the outdoors. But this mama of three knows – kissing baby toes in the sunlight was a gift, a moment received by her soul, given to be shared, so ALL would know – life is fleeting, grab the moment, every moment, the purpose of your life is here, now.