"Allergies?" I asked, offering her my most empathetic smile from the other side of the preschool art room.
"No," she took off her glasses, wiped her eyes with her sleeve. "I'm Italian. This is what we do. It's not even her first day--only the open house--and already I'm blubbering."
I moved in closer to introduce myself, to tell her that it's not just the Italians.
"She must be your firstborn?" I guessed. "She's adorable. And she's going to have the most amazing year," I promised, giving her my recently acquired and most reassuring I've-done-this-before look.
"But first, let there be blubbering."
The truth is, I didn't cry when my firstborn went off to preschool. I didn't cry when my lastborn went off either. No, that would be way too normal. I'd apparently rather wait until October, when both children have been happily deposited in the school routine for over a month, and then rifle through pictures from three years ago and sob like a 10 year old during the last twenty minutes of Old Yeller.
I let myself think for a minute today about what life would be like if I lost one or both of my children. I don't know why I allowed myself such a dangerous hypothetical. These are clearly the sorts of rabbit trails that could wreck me. But I dug out of the what-if-ditch quickly enough--before the fill-dirt anxiety starting pouring in. And I stepped from that shaky, shifting what if soil onto the firm ground of gratitude.
However long this amazing gift is mine--as long as these two miracles sit across from me at dinner (never mind that they're making scrunchy faces at the tortellini)--however long I can pull them in by the cheeks to kiss their foreheads, however long we are here, together, a family, I will give thanks. Continually, if possible. (Except for perhaps a few moments of extreme annoyance with the aforementioned miraculous children).
And so it's gratitude, really, that's making me cry. I see the pictures, October upon October, and I'm so overwhelmed by the thousands upon thousands of moments--each one a gift--piling up into this beautiful history. And how, I think, how has this come to be entrusted to me?
Linking today with Heather for Just Write.
Also, to whoever is in charge of monitoring the use of double dashes--I'm really sorry I used a year's supply in this post alone. That's what happens when I "just write" and tell my inner censor to be quiet. Who knew my inner censor exerted such a tempering influence on my punctuation? Oh well, double dashes it is. Get used to it.