I wasn't expecting it to be this simple, but it was.
We had friends over today to swim. Little teeth were chattering and thunder sounded, somewhere. The wind picked up and we all ran, barefoot and screaming and laughing. I had a baby on my hip as the rain started to fall in fat, relentless drops. We've needed this rain. There are patches of grass that are worn and yellow.
We sat on the front porch in our bathing suits and watched cars crawl by, their tires hissing against the wet pavement. My friend rolled a ball of yarn from a looping skein, drooped in a circle over Louise's rocking horse. (She's getting too big for that horse. I've thought of giving it away a thousand times.)
I thought about their childhood, how my girls will have hazy memories of a gaggle of young mamas. Sometimes sitting on a blanket in the sun with our skirts hiked up our thighs. Sometimes leaning on our elbows on the table at the coffee house. Today, with our grown up woman legs, unshaven and tanned, and our painted toenails. Always talking. Always with babies at our feet and babies at our breasts and babies climbing into our laps. We're always craning our necks to finish a sentence, leaning over to reach into a bag with neat, little containers of food.
It is something, to be a mother.
My own mother had a mole on her inner thigh that I couldn't stop myself from asking about. "It's just a mole," she would say. (She later confessed that she hated it and tried to burn it off, as a teenager.) My mother's body was like my body. There were no parts of it that I didn't look at and study. I knew every detail of her legs, especially. They were big and somehow unwieldy, the muscles were alive under her skin. I remember the shape of her knees and how the bones of her feet protruded. I have memories of peering out at the world through those legs, like they were an extension of what I was, or like they were a place where I existed, somehow.
I think about that, now, how my girls climb into the bath with me, how Scout will crawl into my bed, and curl up against the concave of my bent body in the night. I am privileged to share this space with them, my body. There was a time where they only existed inside of me, and some part of them must remember. They climb on me, fall asleep on me, kick me while I'm changing their clothes. They absentmindedly pull my hair and cry with their faces buried in my throat. I am massive to them, a universe, and they view the world from under the hem of my skirts.
This is what we're all searching for when we twist ourselves into impossible shapes, when we search and cry and dig our nails into our palms. This is why we paint our eyes and buy new shoes. This is why we all need love. We need it so that some of us go mad. Some of us die. We do unflattering things and crawl with our faces in the mud.
A tiny foot in my ribs and a pair of little arms around my neck. My children go out into the world with one hand wrapped around my thigh. They see life from between my knees. They know every part of my legs, every bent bone and tired part of me. I am them. They came from me. We know this and understand this.
This is why we chase boys across campus in the rain, against our better judgement. This is why some people die for love. I'd be so lonely if I could speak a sentence without craning my neck.