We rush into swim lessons. Baby girl in on my hip. She is perfectly capable of walking but for the sake of expediency I whisk her into my arms. My little boy holds her foot, tugging me in a downward backward motion. I just want to get out of the hot sun.
“Stop pulling me down!” I snap.
We check baby girl into her play class and she trots happily to the toys she’s claimed as her own. We walk toward the pool, mindful not to slip on the wet deck. He’s jumping off the walls. Literally. Always. He’s either bouncing off the walls or dead asleep. There is no in between.
“Come on buddy.” I try to take the harshness out of my voice.
He puts his little hand in mine and walks determinedly towards the orange cones that separate Turtle from Clown Fish. He finds his fellow Turtles and jumps into the pool. His energy direct towards his instructor.
I can see her mouthing “No no. Do not splash me.”
I giggle a bit, but try to maintain composure. “Stay strong,” I think. “They can smell fear.”
I reassure myself, “This will be easier. Less physical.”
I hurt all the time. I constantly have a two-year-old on my hip or running head-first into my pelvis. Or my 6-year-old who now has “muscles” attempting to pick me up, which really is more like getting hog-tied around the ankles. He’s taken me down more than once.
“It will get easier.”
But then I think about his little hand in mine. Her little words and the ways she says her “L’s” like “U’s”. I imagine when it gets easier he won’t be putting his hand in mine, in fact he’ll probably be embarrassed to hug and kiss me in public.
Yes it will get easier, my body might even hurt a little less, but then these moments will be gone, replaced by something else. I hope that whatever it is replaced with is equally tender and lovely, but for now I realize I need to lean into the chaos and the six-year-old hanging on my tiny shoulders. He will outgrow me in a split second, the hand being held will be mine in his. Mine as he grows, mine as he goes.
Mine as he steps in manhood, adventure and the unknown. It will get easier, but it will get harder, and then this sweet moment will have passed.