“We should go on a walk after dinner.”
The kids sat at the dining room table, chowing down on pizza from our favorite local joint, their fingers covered in greasy, saucy goo. The adults stood around the breakfast bar, equally covered in a delicious saucy mess. I looked out the window of the dining room at the unseasonably warm February evening and decided, yes, we should take a walk after dinner.
We frequently take post-dinner walks once evenings start warming up in spring, all through summer, and as long as we can in autumn. Of course, when a rogue warm day presents itself in the middle of winter, we take advantage of it to breathe the fresh air, stretch our legs, and “blow the stink off.”
So nothing really seemed out of the ordinary that one of my children suggested we take a walk.
Except that the child in question was my daughter.
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We’ve found a new rhythm to our visiting schedule, one that allows us to visit with more regularity. Those first few years of elementary school for their family and then our family made it rather difficult to mesh schedules. Our calendars haven’t suddenly opened up, but life changes currently work in our favor and we’re taking full advantage of the extra time together.
It means a lot of our visits right now fall on the side of short right now, which kind of stinks for children who just desperately want to spend more and more time with their sibling(s). We’ve explained that lots of shorter visits mean more frequent contact. We’re working on some longer visits during the summer. But still, hugging your sister goodbye just 25 hours after she arrived feels kind of awful.
— __ — __ —
The boys ran up and down the hill on the side of the road. They squealed with delight and chased their sister down the road. The three of them raced ahead, knees and elbows askew, heavy breaths and giggles floating through the evening air. Us two moms followed behind, talking about life in general, watching pieces of the family we’ve created kick rocks into the creek at the bottom of the hill. The space between the three kids moved freely, their words piling on top of one another in the way you expect brothers and sister to talk—over and under and around one another. They played with echoes in the hollow.
And I breathed it all deep into my soul.
As we trudged back up the hill, kids still trying to race up the steep hill that gives me problems on my best of running days, I felt caught off guard by the normalcy of it all. Here we were, two moms walking with our shared daughter and her brothers. Here we were, a birth mom and and adoptive mom sharing a friendship, a business, a life forever intertwined.
Knowing things wouldn’t always feel as easy as this moment—sun setting, kids laughing, heart so big and full—I used my photographic memory to record the way the horizon looked pink and the moon hung directly over a neighbor’s barn. Her wild leggings; their shaggy hair. Three pair of Chucks. I want to easily come back to this place, a safe place, when things get rough—when they feel too hard, too big, too gut-wrenching. I want to recall how easy everything felt in this one moment on the days and nights when I’m left wondering how and why my genetics suck so badly, when I feel absolutely helpless due to our distance; when I miss her so much my heart seizes. Stops. And starts yet again.
I look forward to our next short visit, for another random moment like this with wild children running down the road in front of me; for another moment to cling to when nothing else seems to make sense.