My sons have created this thing. It is something of a game and it always begins like this: How old will you be when...?
When I'm six, Theo, you will be eight. When I'm eight you will be ten. When I'm ten you will be twelve. This continues for one or two more minutes, and then it inevitably goes something like this:
When I am twelve, Mom will be forty-six. When I'm eighteen, says Theo, Mom will be fifty...
I listen to their voices and I admire their budding ability to do quick thinking math. Their lovely sugary sounds ping back and forth from mouth to mouth, and I go still. This is funny business to them. They're competing. They're showing off - How old will Mom get?!
There is cotton in my mouth. My heart pauses. I think but do not tell them that hearing their voices roll our ages out before us, as if each passing day isn't going fast enough, is like beating the rug of our life; the dirt and dust shaking out in lines that appear around my eyes, mouth, forehead. Particles mixed with light linger on my no longer taut belly - the one that has stretched and exploded before me in the most beautiful soft roundness, not once but twice, that I could push in with my finger and feel a foot fold, touch heels when they were on my insides. At times there is even an ache and the phantom pain of an arm stretching, a head turning straight towards my soul, a story past. Wasn't that just yesterday's story? Wait, wait, I say, I'm still doing the math.
I am at my computer editing photos. Pandora is set to Joni Mitchell radio. Her voice makes me feel woozy, like I just hit the bottle of my early twenties, when what was time? Theo saddles up next to me and I stop what I'm doing to smell the top of his head; to kiss his thumb sized hole of missing skull bone that pulses in beat with my own heart. He takes my love but dryly says that Joni Mitchell is no Katy Perry. No, I suppose not, I say. But she's just as awesome - in a different way. He raises his eyebrows and gives his head a shake back and forth, his lips fold into a smile. That is his second-grade way of saying, whatever, Mom. Whatever.
Then I find myself alone at the kitchen sink. I'm peeling a mandarin and staring out the window at the blanket of fresh snow covering our world, the bright scent filling me. A winterized goldfinch sits still on a tree branch. Across the way in the park, the geese have returned after a long summer and mild fall; they are huddled together with the last bit of day's light resting on their backs. I am aware of my reshaped space, the softness of it, the feeling of possibility. Still, it is a challenge, I think, to not always be doing the math. At least it is my challenge.