A banner floated between two trees on the front lawn of our town hall, congratulating the high school graduates. Moments before spying it I had been walking my three month old through the park, where hot pink azaleas dotted the green walking paths; where a preschool had let loose its pack of toddlers. They ran through the grass, plucking wildflowers and shrieking.
This new town of ours has become our home, and suddenly I saw it all laid out before me like a map: how my own toddler, just like the ones in the park, will all too soon be one of those high school graduates being cheered on at town hall; how my own infant will all too soon become one of those toddlers. How proud I am of these two beings already; how emotional it is to be a parent and how silly I feel for being so emotional.
Spring is normally my least favorite season but this one seems to have some new sparkle to it, a sheen I can't shake. Maybe it's me coming out of the newborn fog and back into real life. On my walks with my son I am buoyed by the flowers and gardens and sounds of landscaping. The hum of lawn mowers lulls him to sleep. There is so much beauty and promise.
I return to work next week, and I love working. I love my office, I love having a career where I can be creative and imaginative and affect people. I get a lot of satisfaction out of my work life and I'm looking forward to heading back. But wow, I'm missing these days already.
There was once a night way back in the mid-aughts, another lifetime ago, when I was drinking at a surf-themed bar in Sri Lanka and I had to physically step back, pause, and draw the scene into my brain so I could make a lasting memory. Even as I was trying to be present, I was already escaping into what my narrative about my time in that country would be, how I was drinking local beer at a bar that wanted desperately to have a California vibe. I knew I would probably never be in that country again, and certainly never in that bar. I would definitely never be with that group of people again. So I had to mark it down. I had to make sure I would remember it.
And I suppose that's what I'm feeling now as my final days of leave in a blooming spring pass me by -- like I'm building the story of my maternity leave as I live out my last days of it. Like I need to make memories even before the days have finished. There are lots of "lasts" happening. My second and final baby will never be as tiny as he is now. My smart and sweet toddler will never be so toddler-like again, with her round belly and sturdy, active legs. I will likely never have this unstructured time with them again, this freedom.
Instead of signaling rebirth, this spring is, for me, a conclusion.