Over the weekend, I watched Molly play in a blow up pool and ride her bike around the cul-de-sac with her neighborhood friends. All the kids were barefoot, though their parents made a valiant effort to the contrary, standing up every so often from lawn chairs to holler, “Turn around!” “Too far!” “Car’s coming! Out of the street!”
We clipped and unclipped helmets. Kissed scraped knees. Applied and re-applied sunscreens in quick, uneven strokes.
And then as if the moment couldn’t absorb another inch of suburban nostalgia, the ice cream truck came slow-rolling through the neighborhood playing “Pop Goes the Wiesel” and all the kids lost their minds at the exact moment we were trying to shuffle them inside for dinner.
These days are so sweet.
They are slow in a good way: quiet, reliable naptimes for Molly, a temporary and much needed writing break for me. It’s dawning on me more and more that these comfortable rhythms are so brief, that I only have a couple more months with Molly as an only child; a couple more months of running out the door without a diaper bag or worrying about an infant’s feeding schedule.
Soon, Molly will have a baby brother and I will stop having free hands altogether.
Soon, I will become a human food source and need to change a diaper every 45 minutes.
Soon, when Molly goes down for a nap I will not have the luxury of being alone for a couple hours everyday, and this is the single thing that intimidates me the most about becoming a mom of two.
Recently, I’ve felt a little wild with this temporary liberty, as if I’m seeing it for the first time. There is an urgency to make more memories with Molly, to take her out to lunch or go to the beach or otherwise gallivant around town before I have to do it while holding a two-year-old’s hand and the handle of a car seat carrier.
Sometimes I worry I’m not thankful enough for these days. I worry I’m too easily frustrated when Molly throws food on the floor or throws a tantrum when I tell her it’s time to put pants on. As much as I want to, I don’t always take things in stride. By three o’clock I’m thinking of the day “Let’s wrap this thing up.”
Because here’s the other thing about these days: I am pregnant in them.
Not pregnant in the “I feel great and beautiful” sort of way.
Pregnant in the “I’m uncomfortable 100% of the time” sort of way — with exhaustion and nausea that threatens to march into all three trimesters right along with me.
The baby is healthy. I am healthy. But together we have accumulated all sorts of symptoms. My sympathetic husband has heard about each one in exhaustive detail.
Every pregnancy is different, I know. When I was pregnant with Molly I was energized and working out daily, even rock climbing and jumping off waterfalls in Maui at seven-and-a-half months pregnant.
But now with this little guy, my greatest wish is simply to find the closest parking spot and minimize walking time on my weekly visits to the chiropractor. Because, yes, I now go to a chiropractor. And frequently I feel the need to apologize to him for the fact I am inexplicably sweaty, despite the fact that it is merely 70 degrees outside.
It just so happens that my chiropractor’s wife is also pregnant, due around the same time as me. She has had zero pregnancy symptoms and every time I ask her how she’s doing she says “Feeling great! Just getting bigger!”
This makes me feel bad, especially since she was the one who asked the question first, to which I replied, “Terrible. And getting worse.”
I was half joking. I reiterated this fact before she glided away in her cloud of pregnancy euphoria.
As much as I’m trying to cherish these days, I also find myself trying to hustle this pregnancy along, thinking of it as something I can’t wait to finish.
Hurry up, days.
I mean, don’t.
Please stutter along now.
Last night we went out to dinner at one of those soup and salad buffets that offer unlimited ice cream as a reward for eating lettuce for dinner. Mike was on his fourth dinner plate and I was rubbing the top of my belly, trying to ease the heartburn that was threatening to incinerate my whole body when Mike asked Molly, “Do you want to go get some ice cream with me?”
Her little face got wide with wonder and delight, but then quickly scrunched in confusion.
She said something neither of us understood, so Mike posed the question again.
Again, she said the indiscernible phrase. We asked her three times to repeat it before we understood.
“But there is no Pop Goes the Wiesel!!!”
“THERE IS NO POP GOES THE WIESEL!”
Mike and I realized her only association with ice cream was from the ice cream truck that came through the neighborhood. Molly couldn’t reconcile the fact that ice cream came from any other source than a rusty white mini van with a menu half in Spanish and half in English.
What a delight it was to inform our child that ice cream, though rarely offered to her, is actually available in all sorts of places! Like at grandparents houses! And salad buffets!
I wanted to freeze that moment, even at the same instant I thought my heartburn might actually kill me, even as I was so exhausted I could have laid down in that restaurant booth and slept for two days.
Still, I wanted to linger there a little longer, to keep Molly this young, this full of wonder, to be there with Mike, to have this moment of connection between the three of us.
Like it or not, the days rage on fast and slow, in hiccups and stutters, with aches and groans, in wonder and delight, as if every detail adds up to a balance struck between all things. A sum of contentment achieved at a cost.
These days are sweet, charging ahead with or without a nursery rhyme playing in the background. And this can be confusing. Especially because I want to hold them at the very same time I’m ready to let them go.