10:12 AM

Last September I looked like I was carrying a pumpkin. I think Birdie was actually only the size of a small squash or something like that but it sure didn't look that way on the outside. We went apple picking and I dragged around a bag full of apples the size of my belly. I tried to imagine next year and I saw faint images of a baby frolicking through the orchard. A faceless, nameless baby of course. I would close my eyes and try harder, try to see his or her face. I couldn't. 
I also couldn't imagine the sheer glee that would light up on Birdie, my daughter's, face when papa bear lifted her up high enough to reach all the apples. I couldn't imagine the way she would widen her eyes and lift those legendary brows of hers with amazement as she pulled out yet another apple out of the bag. The way she timidly would wrap her chubby warm fingers around an apple on the tree and tug ever so gently, hoping it would snap off the branch. The fearless way she would crawl amongst the trees and fallen fruit, babbling to herself with excitement. I could have never imagined all this.
As she sat in the grass with her bag of apples while mama and papa collected more a couple in their fifties walked up to her. They gazed at her and told her how cute and darling she was. And then the husband turned to us and said, his voice cracking: "This is our first time apple picking without our kids. The oldest one's in college now. I remember how we used to come every year. I remember coming when they were just this small. Cherish these times. Please. They really do go by too fast... Promise me you'll cherish this?" It was almost awkward the way the pain in his voice intersected with our joy in that moment and yet that is the essence of parenting - joy and pain forever intertwined. Because the second you celebrate something new you also mourn the loss of what was. She's standing and crawling and sitting (hooray!) but she'll never be that tiny wrinkly newborn again... She's almost talking and babbling (yay!!) but she'll never coo the way she used to when she was just an infant...
And so we make memories so we can cherish. Cherish these precious, fleeting moments.

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