Sometimes, a half of a mile can last forever.
Especially when you’re walking alongside a 20-month-old little boy when you’re seven months pregnant.
His little legs move at a snail’s pace; and if that wasn’t enough, our neighbors’ yards and pine straw beds do very little to keep him focused on the task at hand…making our way ‘ohm,” as he calls it.
We walk a couple of steps; “BALL!” my little guy squeals. It’s like he’s never seen a ball before, and it’s so cute that it takes every ounce of restraint I have not to swoop him up and kiss him on the face (like I had right after I got him out of the swings a few moments before).
“I see it, buddy! That’s so cool. Let’s keep walking!”
A few more steps and he stops again, “Leaf!!” He continues to collect a few and then hand them to me.
“Oh my goodness, I love them, buddy. Thank you!”
Leaves have become flowers to this mama. There have been so many and he loves to collect them for me. He shows them off proudly and knows that he has made me happy.
We keep walking and see a yard full of boys between 8 and 12 playing a game of touch football. I feel a strange twinge of emotions as I know this particular vignette is my future; one that is rapidly approaching whether I’m ready or not. Time has stolen my baby and given me a silly, independent…and yet extremely dependent toddler. Time has been a great gift and a subtle thief. Soon, I won’t just have one little boy who needs me. I’ll have two. And I may not have enough time to sneak away with just one of them.
“Drrrruck!” A familiar word rouses me from my hormonal surge of emotion.
“Yes, buddy. A big truck! What color is the truck?” We stop to watch it pass.
“Great job buddy!”
We may not make it up this hill. I thought silently. Especially with all of these leaves.
“That’s a flower.”
My little guy attempts to say the word “flower,” but it sounds more like “dowww.” Just about every consonant is a d these days.
After stopping at a pine straw bed for about ten minutes and picking up every rogue gumball or leaf (you’re welcome, neighbors), he starts to pick up the pace. His left arm pumps vigorously and his little Under Armor shoes hit the pavement at a run.
“Be careful, sweetheart.” I find myself envisioning all the worst case scenarios for a walk without sidewalks. My waddle turns into a brisk walk to shield him from traffic.
Speaking of a waddle, I can’t believe I’m already at this point of my pregnancy. Intense heartburn and excruciating round ligament pain aside, I’m beginning to realize that I am going to meet the third love of my life in a few more months. It’s all very exciting.
And emotional. I’m so very emotional. Especially when my little boy grabs my left hand and my heart leaps out of my chest. I have felt more happiness in the last twenty months of my life than I have in my entire life. I have felt the depths of purpose and deep abiding love more than I ever have in the twenty-eight-and-a-half years before my little boy’s arrival. The moment that he was born, I became a mother. It has been the single greatest gift of my entire life. I have felt more fulfillment in being a mom to my little boy than in any other role I’ve ever filled.
And, about halfway “ohm,” I decided I wanted to make this walk last forever.
We won’t always have time just the two of us, but for these last few months, I want to remember this walk. I want to be completely focused on him. I want him to know that I love him more than I ever thought I could love any human being in the world.
I want to marvel at the little things that make him so happy.
I want to look at the blue trucks passing us by.
And I don’t mind that the last quarter of a mile, I’m carrying one little boy in my arms and another in my belly. After all, my arms may not be as free in two months. I nuzzle my way to his cheeks and kiss them repeatedly. I hold this moment in my memory and try desperately not to lose it.
This walk can last forever. I’m okay with that.