"She said in the 3 years since having her son, they'd only been out on maybe 5 dates. I mean...can you even imagine that?"
"Um...have we been out on 5 dates in the past 3 years?"
"...Well....Hm. Maybe you need to take me out more."
The windows are down on one of those perfect Arizona fall evenings when the sun is huge and golden and it almost feels like you're in the middle of some great harvest, and if you close your eyes those weeds in that vacant lot just might be corn. Rows and rows of corn, ready to be harvested for the last time this summer before bedding down for winter.
Not that we bed down for winter. Winter is when we open the windows later in the day and revel in feeling like we need a blanket at night. But first is fall, and with fall comes a sun that blazes golden, making the sky into a copper and cerulean sundae, just before dipping behind purple mountains. Fall is when the car windows are rolled down and our hair blows in the wind and I look in my rearview mirror and see my son with his wheat-colored mop of hair and his peachy cheeks closing his eyes and turning his face to the outside world. Sucking in the wind through his nose and laughing in pure exhaltation. Even Luca, who can't stand the annoyance of wind in her hair most days, asks to have her window down on evenings like this. The feel-good vibe has taken over the car, and I turn up the radio just as The Clash is playing Should I Stay Or Should I Go and it's like this perfect moment of zen and bliss and life all in one. I turn the radio up and see Rohan in my reariew mirror, bobbing his head like he's on the fringe of a mosh pit and I'm excited he likes the music so I turn it up.
And then from the other 5-point harnessed passenger, I hear a few words I can't quite pick up, so I turn down the radio and ask Luca to repeat what she just said. She babbles for a minute about something unrelated and then I turn the music back up because I am fairly certain Rohan was really into this song, what with the apparent fist-pumping he's doing in the backseat.When Luca calls to me again a minute later, again I turn it down to ask what's up. She wants to make sure I know where I am going (when did she become the mom, anyhow?) and I do, and then I see Rohan shaking his arms to the beat and looking out the window, so I say to him, "You like this, buddy?" because I am just sure he's loving the music.
"Ayuh-pwaaaaane!" he answers back, hands extended and pointing out the window (not moving to the beat of the music) and face turned to the sky to see the plane (not to feel the pure joy of a good song + a fall evening's fresh air).
It's not necessarily that we moms want to lose that piece of ourselves, you know. It's more that between fielding a 3 year old's interrogation and realizing your 19 month old is more into 'ayuh-pwaaaanes!' than The Clash you kind of lose the ability to find the you that used to be. Fortunately, most parents would tell you the change is worthwhile and they don't miss rides alone in the car with their music blaring and the windows down that much. And most of the time, we even mean it. But once in a while....
I try to match his enthusiasm about the plane floating high above us in a twilight sky, and then I turn the music right back up and for a moment I ignore all chatter from the back row as I soak in the wind and the music and the feeling just for a second that the old me still lingers there, under a layer of mom.
This morning's mission was three-fold: laundry, time with the kids, and a clean kitchen. Unfortunately, Rohan's been having A Day all day, so mid-cleaning we took a break to entertain the possibility of a morning nap. It was only 9 a.m. but the beast had woken us at 5 a.m., so it wasn't unreasonable especially given his attitude to think he might want a nap. I took him upstairs and he curled into me and wouldn't let me put him in the crib, so I stood there rocking him. He wanted me to sing, so I sang the first song that came to mind (don't tell me Piano Man isn't the first song that comes to your mind when rocking a baby?), and when the song was over I stood silently rocking him, my right arm supporting his body and my left arm around his back, holding the weight of his heavy head. And from downstairs, where I'd tuned the TV's music stations to 'Reality Bites' I heard this song playing:
And suddenly, I was 31 and 17 at the same time again. I was me, and I was Mama, and I couldn't be happier to house both those people in my skin.