March 2, 2015 § 1 Comment
“To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” – Clara Ortega
Today the little girl who lives next door to us asked me why we stopped at four children and didn’t have more. A little disarming coming from a 9 year old “only child”, and surrounded by my kids, sure made me think before I answered. I had fleeting flashbacks to points between my pregnancies when people would ask if we planned to have more children (such an intimate question but no one really gets that), to which my husband and I would always respond, if we continue to be blessed with healthy, happy children, we will continue to have more. That of course stopped at four, when the number of children then matched the collective number of hands between my husband and I.
Truth is, I come from a fairly small family. My mother was an only child, and my father one of two, so even the number of cousins was limited. When my husband and I were contemplating round three, I got a bit fearful looking at the statistics, and asked him “Shouldn’t we stop while we are ahead? We have two beautiful, healthy children”, to which he responded in his confident wisdom, “That is WHY we should continue, because we make beautiful, healthy children!”. I’m forever grateful to have a partner in life who talks me out of my fear.
Now, as I see our children play and connect, I witness the beauty and intimacy written in the truth above:
“To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were.”
I think of my grandparents, who each had loads of siblings and have attended many of their funerals. They do not see a frail, aged body, devoid of spirit, cushioned in satin and surrounded by floral condolences. They see a life-long friend and confidant. Someone who knew not just their past but their origin, where they came from and what they looked like at every stage of growing up. No matter how many friends they made along the way, none of them can match that list of qualities.
I see my children oscillate with each other, sometimes playing with one sibling one day and another sibling the next day, or switching it up mid-day depending on the activity. Then there are the days that they all play together. And that is a beautiful thing. Sometimes very loud, but there is beauty in it. And in their adult years, around the Thanksgiving dinner table, they will laugh and remember funny stories, embarrassing moments incurred along the way, discoveries, and revelations among their varied perspectives.
And their personalities, they are captivating to watch emerge. To have evolved so differently under the same parenting, environment, and genes, just fascinating. I get so excited at their futures, where they go, what they will do, whom they will choose, the journey each will take. I find myself smiling, imagining weddings, grandchildren, travelling adventures, wherever the road takes them.
After I finish writing this, I will prepare for sleep, but not before I check on each child, asleep in their bed, in their most innocent and peaceful state. And I will be overwhelmed with both love and gratitude, resisting the urge to scoop them into my arms and shower them with kisses, snuggling their small bodies and breathing in their scent.
One day, a long time from now I will be away from them, but something in the air will remind me of that scent, and it will take me back, bringing a smile to my face, knowing I am blessed.
And I will live outside the touch of time.