By Carisa Miller
In the summer sun, my children shed their attire and along with it, the last of their baby skin.
It is impossible not to smile, watching their bare bottoms bound around the garden. I am desperate to imprint those sweet cheeks on my memory, to hold visions of round little rumps in my mind, long after they stop streaking through the yard to splash in the kiddie pool.
Do children grow faster in the summer? Am I watering and fertilizing mine too much? When their bodies aren’t buried under layers of clothing, their rapid growth is much more evident.
I carry my youngest less often now. Yesterday I leaned over too far when I set her down; her feet hit the ground before I thought they should.
This is full-blown childhood. Little girls with grubby hands and tangled hair shriek and gallop across the lawn. Babies no longer live here.
Life is all giggles and skinned knees again. I feel myself wanting to live this way forever. They have only just gotten here and already, I can feel myself missing my daughters as children. In the heat of each day, I attempt to freeze them in time.
I peek over my book from the hammock as the girls dash between the water and the raspberry patch, becoming wetter and more berry-stained with each pass.
I chase them, as they squeal away from me on chubby legs. I feel a sense of urgency, to catch them before those legs grow long and lanky and are able to outrun me.
We roll into a pile of tickles in the grass. I scatter kisses on warm bellies and pinch those irresistible tushies.
This is the summer destined to become That Summer in my memory. It is this moment in my children’s lives. The summer of an almost-five and two-and-a-half-year-old. The only one of its kind.
They are just old enough to play outside on their own. They are still young enough to cling to me and fight over which one of them is taking up too much room on my lap.
In our world, just being in the backyard is an activity.
Holding still and applying sunscreen are mutually exclusive.
We surround ourselves with bubbles.
Popsicles are our religion.
I marinate in these sticky-sweet moments and emerge more childlike myself.
“Squirt me with the hose, Mommy!”
“Can I pick a flower, Mommy?”
“Look! A butterfly, Mommy!”
Each breath of this passing season counts down to the end of a sacred lifestyle. Kindergarten is coming to force the children back into their clothes. Rain will dampen carefree spirits and wash away our lazy days. Time will no longer be entirely ours.
My arms feel weak and useless when I imagine wanting to fill them with children who are no longer children. When their small bodies exist only in memories, I pray I will be able to look into their grown eyes and see my little girls running naked through the yard.
Carisa Miller is a sarcasm wielding, cheese devouring, nut-job writer and Listen To Your Mother show director/co-producer, living in Portland, Oregon with her astonishingly patient husband, two fireball daughters, and an ill-tempered cat. CarisaMiller.com