There is something in this moment, something that grabs at my throat and pulls at the tears gathering in my eyes. Something that makes me aware of every breath I take, and every beat of my heart. Something elusive and fleeting, and I worry that if I don't sit down and try to capture it in words on paper it will float out the window on the warm gentle breeze blowing through my windows, carried away with the sunshine and sound of birds.
I hear it in the sounds of laughter and voices calling from outside, as Heather plays on the swings and Hazel dumps sand on herself in the sandbox. I am in their bedroom, the window just above where they play. I watch their tiny bodies as I fold laundry and pick up the flotsam and jetsam of childhood that is strewn about their room.
I hear it coming from the next room, as Hallie giggles softly to herself. She is surrounded by piles of books that have been pulled off the bookshelf, in careful search for the one that was just right for the afternoon. She is laying on her stomach flipping through the pages of Calvin and Hobbes. I know she can't understand all of the words, but Calvin's face is expressive enough, and he is childlike just often enough, that I catch her laughing as she turns to see what he will be up to next.
I hear it from the kitchen below, where Hanna is humming her own tunes that drift out of her mind through her mouth like a music box that will never shut, and never plays the same melody twice. She is hard at work, lost in a trance of creativity and effort as she creates works of art that dazzle and inspire her. Her humming and singing crescendoes as she comes to the finish of one masterpiece, and begin building softly again as she starts on a fresh one.
The wind blowing through the open windows of my home on this warm fall afternoon carry the sounds away, and I wonder what the neighbors think when they hear it, I wonder if they pause in their hustle and bustle and think back on their own childhoods.
I wonder at the magic in these sounds to carry me away, transported back to my own childhood, my own afternoons in the sunshine, in the sand and on the swing, my own adventures with Calvin and the nearly ever loyal Hobbes, my own attempts at expressing myself through art and song.
I go from room to room, putting things back in their places, and on some days it is tiring work, sometimes it is irritating to do it over and over. My life on those days feels like a horrible joke that someone won't stop telling, and I wonder what it's all for - I pick something up knowing it will be on the floor again in minutes. I ask them to do something knowing they will not hear me, or forget what I've said within minutes. On the really discouraging days I wonder if I even have a voice that makes actual sounds - if a mom says something in a house and none of the children hear her, did she say anything at all? And what is the purpose of all that I do if all of it is undone immediately?
Then I have a day like today, and the wind brushes my hair like a gentle caress, and pours the sounds of my happy children into my heart, and I know my purpose.
I don't know if I have adequately captured the moment, but I have given it my best. Hopefully it is good enough that on the discouraging days I can look back at this and feel that breeze again in my heart, and remember. This is their childhood, and I am the keeper and guardian of it.