I love watching my children as they sleep. They are so serene, so peaceful. I place my hand on their faces and arms and I long for the days when I held their little bodies. Their warm baby breathing, the feel of their chests rising and falling in my arms reassured me that they were alive--that I really was a mother.
Now I can no longer cradle them the way I did. Oh, but I try. Their long, bony arms and legs poke me and prod me, but as soon as it's begun, it's over. They're off to play or ride scooters, anything but be with mom.
When they were toddlers, I was sure my twins would always need me. I scooped them up when they fell; every wail, "Mommmmmeeeeeee" was always followed by me hovering with my hands outstretched and back hunched over making sure they didn't fall into anything or break anything. It was like triage. Who was in the most danger? One twin would hopefully not get hurt while I tended to the other. I yearned for a break, screamed for it. "When will this ever end?!?"
It did. Their wiggly toddler bodies that I used to prop up on both hips like saddle bags, grew up.
It occurs to me now, as I marvel at the changes in their sleeping faces, that I can't scoop them up anymore. I can't carry them, and the break I desperately wanted is bittersweet. Sometimes I crawl in bed with each one. I get close to feel their breathing, to remember that luscious, baby cuddle. It's like that book, I Love You Forever. I will hold them close as much as I can for as long as I can, all the while knowing one day too, this will end. Hug those babies, people.