In Memory of Diggers


Motherhood is full of these little moments of heartache. Moments about which I could curl up and cry all day if I got around to it.

This morning, I brought Jack to school. We parked the car, got out, and I helped him sling his backpack onto his shoulders. It was brisk. He had his fists balled up inside his coat, but he still offered me the stump of his sleeve to hold onto as we walked up the sidewalk.

A front end loader with a back hoe passed us on the street.

My heart lept.

Jack has loved diggers and anything related to construction since he was about 18 months old. Since the age of two, he could tell you the names of every piece of machinery.  Through him, I learned the difference between a skid steer loader and a manitou. He’s always lit up whenever we saw a truck roll down the road, or when we passed a construction site.

“Look Mama!” he would cry, “It’s an excavator! And it’s moving!”

I became so accustomed to these simple moments of joy, that my own body learned to pulse with excitement when I saw a truck. OH, how cool! I would think, then call out to Jack about what I saw.

Often he would correct me. “No, Mama, that is NOT a bulldozer. That is a front end loader.”

Having children is like having extra sets of eyes through which I view the world. These eyes see the wonder of everyday things- how a small, gray stone looks like a moon rock.  Never in my life, before having a boy child, did I ever imagine that there would be magic in watching the articulated arm of an excavator.  And yet, there is.

A front end loader with a back hoe, or at least that is what I think it is. . .

A front end loader with a back hoe, or at least that is what I think it is. . .

Jack has amassed quite a collection of toy trucks, with the help of my indulgent husband. He has everything from a cement mixer to a snaggle tooth loader. I think there was a part of us that thought he would play trucks forever. Slowly his fascination with construction vehicles gave way to a love of fire trucks, and now he seems more interested in super heroes. At five and a half, he might come back around to trucks.

These phases pass so quickly in retrospect. Since Emily was born my life has sped up exponentially. I have been consumed with breast feeding, behavior issues, sleep deprivation, and juggling work, parenthood, and marriage. Some times entire days will pass, and I will realize that I have been looking at Jack, but not really seeing him, let alone seeing with his eyes.

When I saw the grubby truck going down the road this morning, my heart lept, and then sank, as I realized that Jack did not seem to even notice it.

It made me think that someday, all too soon, he will feel too old to offer his mama his hand on the way into school.


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