Sunday afternoon is warm and sunny, idyllic mid May weather. Monkey and Bug are chasing each other around the yard in some made up game that includes several soccer balls and water guns. Their knees are heavily grass stained from dramatic falls onto the lawn that is still thick and green from all our April rain.
I'm sitting on our red tree swing, with Duck on my lap. He is slightly sticky from a popcicle he devoured earlier, the front of his shirt tinged pink from the juice and I have no idea if it will come out in the wash.
We swing back and forth, Duck's blonde little head pressed tight against my chest, his little baby hands grabbing the white swing ropes just below mine. I wrap one arm about him as we go higher. I kick at the maple leaves on some low branches in front of us and Duck breaks into giggles. As we continue to swing and I continue to kick at the leaves with each swing forward, the giggles change into full toddler belly laughes that I can't help but laughing with.
That's how I spent my afternoon, swinging with Duck on my lap, listening to my older boys run and shout. Every one laughed. The sun fell in dappled patterns through the tree leaves. The snowball bush was starting to bloom. The first hummingbird I've seen this year zipped back and forth over the yard.
It was as close to perfect as a day gets.
In a few months, I probably won't remember it. I may remember that we spent days in the back yard together, that we occasionally would swing together. But all the details - the exact size and weight of Duck in my arms, the way his pale cream and blue striped shirt accented his ever lightening hair, how exactly high Bug and Monkey come up to me, how their laughs sound at this age - all those details will fade, surer than the grass stains and popcicle drips come out in the wash.
Duck for sure won't remember the afternoons on the swing. Bug and Monkey won't remember the rules to their new game.
Right after Duck was born and I was home in his nursery, rocking him, a wall of emotion overcame me. It was a mix of sadness, panic, shock, and disbelief. I couldn't remember what it felt like holding Bug and Monkey when they were newborns. I remember the events of their births, and there are definitely memories of them growing up. But all the details, every thing that I try so hard to soak up on a daily basis, had retreated somewhere so far back in my mind I couldn't find it. The exact smell of their hair, the patterns on their feet, each silly sound and facial expression.
I'm taking a lot more pictures this time around. I'm making more videos. I'm documenting more.
There are people who scoff at the number of photographs parents take of their children, amassing hundreds or thousands of often blurry shots of every day events. Maybe we do this because we understand how fleeting childhood is. Even if we aren't desperately longing for time to slow down, we understand that these beautiful moments won't last.
I know my children won't remember all the silly songs we sing. I know they won't remember reading A Very Hunger Caterpiller dozens of times each day. I know they won't remember each trip to the park and walk through the woods. I know they won't remember each piggy back ride to bed or story read in a blanket fort. I know all these beautiful moments will fade just as quickly for them as they have for me.
I'll keep right on doing all these things. We may not remember all the details, but we will remember that there were days that we were together and things were just beautiful.