My children take my breath away.
Sometimes this breathlessness comes in the form of a GASP of horror after they do something particularly perturbing.
Other times it comes in the form of holding my breath so that I don’t yell or say something I will regret out of frustration and exhaustion.
But most of the time, just a glance at their soft, pale, faces or plush, dimpled hands will knock the wind right out of my lungs. They do not know this, of course. Their beauty is careless and unintended.
The nape of Jack’s neck as he bends over his homework. His grasp on a yellow crayon as he colors studiously. The roundness of Emily’s knees as she bends them, lying on her back. Her face in repose after nursing, so round and pink.
Then there are the times when I am breathless, watching them navigate the world. I find myself sharply catching my breath as I watch Jack look around the playground for a buddy when I drop him off in the morning. Holding my breath, I pray that the world will be kind and gentle to him. Hours later, I realize I still have yet to exhale. When Emily scampers about the playground, my teeth are gritted and I can not breath for the fear that she will fall and smash some delicate part of herself.
Sometimes, sitting at my desk I picture my kids in some kind of implausible situation- let’s say something akin to being eaten by a bear- and my lungs will pause mid-respiration.
Rationally, I know they will take their lumps, emotionally and physically, as they grow. I am mostly okay with this fact. I also know that crazy-maternal-dread-thoughts are part and parcel of my job description as their mother. I’m cool with that too.
Nothing before having their bodies emerge from me could ever have prepared me for the constant attack of love that seizes me when I take in their beauty.
My children take my breath away. That’s all.