I showed up to the first day of co-op preschool with my feisty 16-month old and my freshly released from the NICU 1-month-old. The littlest was still connected to tubing, an apnea machine, and required nursing (of the milk I would pump out of my body every two hours) out of a special bottle. As difficult as those times were, with a host of appointments for the baby who docs said would never walk or talk and no idea of cognitive ability, and a toddler who hated how the world shifted suddenly after her special needs brother was born, the relationships I formed with the other mamas in co-op have remained a very special place in my mind and spirit.
Although I am fond of all of the moms and their kiddos from our years in co-op, there were five other mamas and I that synced up. It has been one of the most cherished of my parenthood adventures: times with these moms and their kiddos. Tomorrow, we embark on our 13th annual Moms and Kids Summer Adventure. We are heading off into the land where wi-fi and television and cell service aren’t present. Not all of our kids will be there, as they are off on their own important adventures, but all of the mamas will be.
River floating. Downtime. Wine sipping and late-night catching up. Coffee consuming and chatting in the cool wee hours of the morning (the mamas will now be the first to rise). There have been marriages and divorces and huge professional successes and huge devastating heartbreaks and pain and highs and lows, with some regular days thrown in, too, over the past 16 years. As much as I love my busy days in Spokane, I am sentimentally looking forward to escaping for a few untouchable from the outside world days.
As I said goodbye to ManCub this afternoon, and wrapped my arms around his giant body, he stood tall, not moving. His little sister, Peach, said: “Chris, you better hug mom because you know how life can go and you never know when your last goodbye will be so you have to make it good.” Sounds extreme, but it is something we have always lovingly adhered to. ManCub wrapped his arms around me three times and squeezed me until my back and ribs and jaw cracked. “Mom, I could break you in half,” he said as I squealed. We always joke about love hurting . . . just enough.
Not long afterward, news reports rolled in about the devastating and cowardly attack in Nice, France, reminding me that love does indeed hurt, and that we are all breakable. In an instant.
My mind flits around in excitement to see Love Nugget and her mama, as they return from their two-day gallivant on the Oregon coast, and as I pack and prepare for the moms and kids summer adventure trip. Bella and Nugget are staying behind, as well, stringing my heart out all over the place. I’ll let it all be a bittersweet reminder of the brilliance and fragility of life.