It’s technically still winter, but spring is here, however temporarily. Everywhere I go, I see new faces that will be old faces, and old faces that were once new faces. Brand new faces, like Leo was last year at this time, tiny sleepy faces hidden deep in big carriages, their proud mothers parading them down the path. Mine seems like an untamed giant in comparison, his bare feet jutting over the edge of his stroller as he throws his socks into the street. But on the playground, other mothers say to their toddlers, “see the baby?” which is how I remember that mine is still a baby.
We were all babies. Our grandparents were babies. Our family patriarchs and matriarchs once sat in their strollers pulling their socks off with their teeth, drinking from bottles, crying and laughing uncontrollably all in the same minute. They were so cute you might have wanted to take a bite. Where does life go? Where do all of those different versions of oneself go? For now they exist only in memory, and then one day that, too, goes away. Their sweet young faces are frozen in photos.
It’s 70 degrees and sunny in mid March. I’m at the park, pushing Leo in the swing, our eyes locked, both of us smiling ear to ear. He laughs as I threaten to tickle him. The midday light on his sea-blue eyes is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. “Ma-ma!” he exclaims, smiling wider. This could be the happiest I’ve ever been. Then I remember. Don’t ever change. But I know I can’t stop it.
We’re walking now and we come across a large circle of grass. The grass is cut so short and perfectly cut, so green that I have to touch it to make sure it’s real. A young girl about eight is walking on her hands, gravity pulling her shirt to her armpits and exposing a wiry frame. I remember doing the same thing at her age. I remember the crunchy, dewy feeling against my hands, fighting against the breeze as I tried to balance. How my wrists would ache a little later on as I read in bed. Those were the best days. But these days are even better.
It’s the end of the day and I’m lying in bed with my husband. We just spent three hours laughing hysterically while watching reality television. Of course, we should have been sleeping, who knows when Leo will wake up. But it was worth it. Paul has been known to bring me home New Yorker articles to read instead of flowers, but somehow it’s “bad” TV that brings out the best in us. Maybe because we’re at our most relaxed and shameless. Anyway, I’m lying there peacefully and I suddenly picture us as older people. Paul has a gray mustache. We’re very tired, because we’re old. It’s the end of another dull day and our bones ache, but at least we have each other. “Why does it have to go by so fast?” I ask him. “The change is what makes it precious, what makes life beautiful,” he says.
Even though I know this is true, I sometimes struggle to feel it. Sometimes I’m so happy it hurts, knowing it’s not forever. Soon Leo won’t gaze at me like I’m the only person on earth. Every night I put one baby to sleep and wake up to a different one. I’ve already had hundreds of different Leos. The girl walking on her hands in the grass exists only in my mind and the minds of a few others. And everywhere I go, I see new faces riding by us. So I take photos. I take video. I write. And I try to soak up every moment like I’m soaking up the sun on a day of temporary spring.