I could blame it on the quality of the light or the setting sun,
But it was more probably that I’d just asked my oldest if she’d like to take a turn at the wheel—
And that made me look at my own hands on it
and notice how worn and age-spotted they’d become.
Strange that I mind my own aging far less than I mind theirs.
The little ones are not so little anymore. The youngest is in double digits—something that bothers me more than I let on,
The middle ones are doing nearly-teenager kinds of things with their friends,
And the oldest, though she remained in the passenger seat, could have sat where I was.
I don’t know which of these caused my heart to gain weight and sink low.
When they were small, banshee loud and wild,
I thought moments like this would never, never come.
“They’re going to live with us forever, you know.”
My husband often said that, generally after a minor catastrophe or an interminable putting-to-bed,
And we would both laugh.
Stop, I think, stop.
For it is not the “not keeping up with them” that I fear
As much as it is the being left behind, losing my belonging with them.
Silly, I tell myself. You’ll simply belong in a different way.
And yet the exhausting “being needed” of their younger years
Is giving way to an independence on their part that makes me anticipate loneliness.
Strange that the fulfillment of what I have worked so hard for
Should cause my heart such pain.
“You’re going to leave soon,” I say into the quiet car,
and my oldest, somehow reading my mind, responds,
“Not for two more years, Mom.
That’s still a long way off.”
But she doesn’t realize.
Two years is a blink.
I’ll turn around and find her gone,
With the twins graduating high school,
And the youngest out gallivanting with friends.
She sees and turns up the heat,
And I want to cry.