It's a rare night. A gift, really..... but they are all home and they're sleeping now. Six bodies in various stages of childhood.....most already in adulthood... each with their own signature pose in sleep. One with a tilted neck, one always out of the covers. Each with their own gifts and talents.....and shortcomings. It is hard not to feel the passage of time as I glance in at each of them on my way up to bed. Could it really be 25 years since it all began? Twenty- five years since the first one came home with us, to sleep in a nursery wallpapered with clouds. Are these young adults with long legs and painted eye-lashes really the same ones who only yesterday were scraping their knees and climbing into bed with us before venturing downstairs on a chilly Saturday morning? As the mother of six children, I am constantly watching, and worrying. Those who know me will be surprised by that because I'm not your typical worrier. I didn't worry about them choking, or falling. I never really worried about stairs, or babysitters, or colds or bare feet. But I worry about their happiness and the choices they'll make. I worry about who they will marry, and how this will affect them. I worry if I've taught them enough, and sometimes in a moment of panic, if I've taught them anything at all.
And I must admit, sometimes I wonder what they'll remember. When they think back on the days when there weren't any clean socks, or when the dog destroyed the living room rug, will they also remember when we all used to lay my bed eating candy bars on Friday nights, watching Full House? Will they remember coming down in the morning in their pajamas to watch Sesame Street and Mr Rogers? Will any of us really be able to remember what it was like when we had 5 kids, and the oldest was only 7?
I don't worry about the big days. We have photos that have captured all of those moments....... Christmas, birthdays, and a long chain of first days of school. I have pictures of First Communion, and Christenings.... proms and graduations. I don't worry about remembering those things. It's the little things I want to remember.... The smell of their necks after waking up from a nap.....the smiles with two front teeth missing....the sounds of their voices as they said good night, and I love you......the feel of their hands when they still held mine.......
Yes, they're sleeping now, safe in the warmth of our home. I'm grateful for that. Grateful we have a cozy home and a stable family. Grateful they are growing up so nicely. But still in the dark of night... as I turn out the last light, I say a prayer for their safety and their future. And I hope I'll remember it all.