It is weird to be "the mom" in this home, and it is weird to feel like I'm living in a land where time warps and plays tricks on me. I'm young and old and in between all at once.
But it's not weird like creepy weird. It's more like a feeling of awe. And gratitude.
* * * * *
I rest on the lawn with my book and every other page or so I'm compelled to gaze up at the trio of birch trees towering over the house. The trees that my dad planted when I was Aidan's age. Their silvery leaves shimmer in the afternoon sun, a foil against the blue sky beyond. I'm almost certain that if I look closely enough I'll catch a glimpse of the fairies darting from limb to limb.
A hummingbird startles me. She's found the new feeder. I welcome our new guest and return to Dickens.
I wonder who's practicing the cello and inwardly congratulate the diligent young student who keeps at it, even on a sunny Saturday afternoon. And then I realize it's a bullfrog, his sonorous song carried across the marsh. I laugh.
* * * * *
My mother heard these sounds, gazed at those leaves (or, at least the ancestor leaves), and marveled at the same blue expanse.
But the thing that most startled me in this maternal transformation happened yesterday. The kids, hot and excited, jumped up and down shouting, "Can we go to the ice cream shop? We'll ride our bikes!" They've discovered the thrill of having quaint convenience stores and shops withing walking distance, just as my sister, brother and I did.
I agreed that it was a good day to pedal and happily joined them. On my mother's bike. She and Dad went for the more modern mountain bikes several years ago, so I happily inherited the vintage Schwinn (with a seat to die for).
If ever I've felt like my mother it was at that moment. The moment when I trailed in back of three children and followed that same route. The route that we used to take every summer for two weeks to Vacation Bible School.
Equally sentimental is the fact that Bethie has inherited my old bike, lovingly restored by Papa. She pedaled ahead with Aidan and Avery, just as I had pedaled along with Johnny and Krista.
We arrived at our destination and the kids made their selections. There was no hurry, no reason to rush. We sat down and rested in the warm sun, enjoying the dripping cones and neighborhood hum. I waited and let the children make the request to head home.
I suggested that we swing through the old church parking lot, the place where we had lined up for Vacation Bible School and, years later, the place where Jamie proposed to me. For it was there that we met. The children were properly awed, yet eager to get home.
We followed the road toward the birches and bullfrogs until we approached The Hill. I couldn't resist the temptation to zip down that hill. It's a great zipping hill. Once upon a time we had races to see how far we could coast before stopping. It's in my blood. I followed the urge, unleashed, and flew down that hill. I was eight and ten and fifteen and thirty-six all at once. Free, fully me.
Into the driveway we soared: home. The home where I get to play house -- for real -- and be the mom. A mom who is daily filled with gratitude for the woman who taught her to be one.