Making the rounds, waking the girls, adding socks to outfits and tokens to backpacks reminds me of my childhood. I remember special things—Christmas concerts, spring morning field trips, last games of tag at sundown. I can almost smell the damp Eugene soil and hear the laughter of my childhood friends. It is exquisite to revisit the simplicity of meeting each day with awe. And then comes the tug. This was not my summer and this is not my school year. For every moment it feels like the best moments of my childhood, I am reminded that I am but a character in what will be a story very different from my own.

The twist of being there to rouse them and then smooth away the creases and folds in their sheets, the cotton still warm, as they scamper about downstairs pulls at me. I revel in the repetition of putting their rooms back together, but am startled by this being on the other side. I can do everything to make things as smooth as possible—remembering permission slips, adding lunch box surprises, but I cannot travel the path.

This is nothing new, standing along the periphery I often wish I could be more. It takes me back to the earliest baby days when they’d burrow so deep it was as if they were trying to climb back inside of me. Watching their bodies I see the reward in my own aging, for every new line I acquire they come more in to themselves. They pick up speed as I slow down and the aches begin to ebb as I hear the soundtrack of the rest of my life.

Briar, come here.

Ave, look at this.

I’m Finley Frost Magee.

Briar-mama.

We’re sisters.

I’m coming Avery!

Finley, Briar, check this out.

S’ok mom, we’re fine.

We love you.

G’bye, mom’n'dad.