My head spinning, my shoulders worn like earrings high up on my neck. I can feel my browline and forehead, like putty stretched and scrunched, cinching my skull and making my brain throb. Tension and frustration and something bordering on temporary insanity threaten to swallow me as a boa does a rat. I am the rat, terrified with beady eyes and tense form, legs that feel stiff and wooden, almost unworkable. I am at once solid and unbreachable but broken, a twig stepped on and snapped in two. I feel the stress and worry and it weighs me down to the earth, frozen in time and yet moving at a rapid pace, my frustration and irritation fueling the fire that leaves me nervous and frantic, suddenly wanting to sort through old stacks of junk mail or organize my wrapping paper collection into event type and pattern size. Terminal velocity: unable to speed up despite the pull of the earth and its gravity.
And then, the world spins. He lets me talk, my words like fire and then ice flowing freely. She wants to be lifted into my arms, her little hands absent-mindedly tracing circles into the skin at the back of my arm. He needs to be lifted and held close, and then closer, his feet digging into the softness of my belly as he fights not to be set down. We sit together on the floor - always on the floor together, the couches standing empty like wallflowers. They share a plastic cup with milk and a black straw. He drinks his fill, then lets the excess spill down over the crescent-moon of his chin, spilling onto his shirt as he laughs and crinkles his nose. She laughs in return and then strips down to her favorite outfit of the moment, a swimsuit top and Princess panties. Together they chase the same toy, a lone car that crashes into the wall much to his delight. In the other room are buckets and piles and stashes of toys: blocks and noise-making things with lights, balls and dolls and dress-up goods and crayons - enough crayons to fill an entire gallon ziploc bag - and a bouncing zebra and puzzles. Books. So many books that it would take even the most avid lover of story time several days to read them all. And there, on the tile in need of a mopping but neglected in favor of excursions for ice cream cones and puzzle time, they chase the same blue toy car.
Then he's sitting on my lap, his body warm and his fuzzy blonde hair tickling my face. His hands guide mine to a book with a fat spine, and he starts to dig his toes into the rug in excitement. Suddenly, the room is reeling with the uncontained laughter of two wild blonde kids, their naked legs and fat little bellies moving and shimmying and spinning together, then apart like twin leaves split and spun by the wind, landing in the same soft pile on the ground. We learn to slide like the sheep and leap with the frog. We laugh, the four of us, so much that Luca toots a little, and then we laugh more, and louder. Rohan takes off running, arms behind him and elbows to the sky, landing with a soft thud and planting his face into the couch cushions. He turns, smiles, points to his sister, and says, "Wu-ca!" and the orbit of the moon changes paths, just slightly, but enough that I feel the earth as it moves.
And then puddles of sleepiness appear, ringing their eyes with lavendar shadows. So up we go: 1, 2, 3, 4 climbing the stairs and into the bedroom. We pile, all of us, up onto the big bed where they work the last of their excitement and energy out together, bounding on the bed and torpedoing onto their daddy's belly and the piling onto the pillows, face first. But his fists keep finding his eyes and rubbing them and so I change him into warm sleepy-time clothes and lift his tired weight up to my hip. With contentment lighting his face, he smiles up at me and burrows his face into my shoulder, then leans back to smile a sweet dream smile at his dad. He pulls greedily at a soft blue blanket, running its edges over his face while his hand rubs circles on my arm like his sister's did hours earlier.
Full circle. From weighed down to weightless, their love and the way they take me as I am and let me be, it releases me from the gravity of the earth, work, responsibility, worry. It roots me and it gives me wings. I am always trying to be the best version of self I can be by letting go of things I can't control and centering myself around the things that matter. And I find this truth in all the moments we have: they are my center. When I hold a warm, tired body that melts into me so that the curve of their belly and legs perfectly fit with the curves of this incarnation of my body, I feel I am right where I belong.
I am always me, but I am the best and most authentic version of me when I am with them. Weightless.