A note to myself to read on Feb. 29, 2016 —
The girls are growing by leaps and bounds.
They move fast.
Days get blurry.
Years disappear in a flash.
I hide behind the camera and I shudder as the shutter closes. They are 6 and 9. Dare I blink again?
They will be 13 and 10 the next time Leap Day rolls around. Won’t the quiet afternoons of dressing Polly Pockets and smashing Playdough into shape be long gone then?
I want to hold them tightly and stop the escaping time. But today, on this day that we only number once every four years, I can’t stop time. All I can do is slow down, hug them tightly and be still myself.
Yes, I can slow down, I can be still, I can count the moments, and I can thank God for what He gives in each moment. Moments are really all I have to count, Ann says.
So I grab my camera again. Isn’t this why I have a camera — to capture the moments and help me remember them just as they are? Not dashing here and there, not all dressed up, just still. Just being.
And I, too, must be still so I can see how she tosses those wavy locks and tries not to bite her bottom lip where the baby teeth are missing.
I must be still to see how patient she is with me as she tilts her head and grins, stroking her fingertips without realizing it.
Then my own fingertips stroke the keyboard, letters stringing together in words and sentences to tightly bind those moments in my memory.
At 9 and 6, they seem to be at just the perfect ages for playing together. They can do many things are their own now — morning chores, reading, fixing breakfast and sometimes lunch, folding laundry, helping with housework. But they also still love for me to read to them, to let them help me bake and to watch their silly made-up plays and goofy magic shows.
Big Girl is quieter but never short of words. She’s responsible and loyal. She can stay home alone for a few minutes and has finally figured out how to run the DVD player in the basement. She is wearing braces, diagramming sentences, studying fractions, reciting the multiplication facts flawlessly, and beautifully playing “Andantino” and “Winter Wind” on the piano — even though she can’t yet stretch her delicate little hands to reach a seventh. Spending time with friends is becoming more meaningful to her, and she especially enjoys talking with friends regularly at dance lessons and art class. She looks forward to the Girls of Character literature group we do once a month with five of her friends. Her broken arm has healed, praise be to God, and she is eager to show her three scars from it whenever someone asks how it is feeling.
Baby Girl is sensitive but full of spunk and passion. She started talking when she was 9 months old and since then has paused a few times when she’s asleep. Any slight injustice disturbs her. She loves keeping up with whatever her big sister is doing and quickly feels left out when she can’t tag along. But she is also deeply enthusiastic about the simplest things — lemon pie, giant snowflakes, getting to use a calculator for her math lesson, receiving a sticker or a piece of candy from a friend at dance. She is quite a lovely dancer and is doing well with math and piano, too. She plays “Nina Ballerina” and “Rocky Road,” serves up Playdough pies and bathwater tea, and almost never trusts the weatherman or the dentist. She is somewhat toothless — having recently lost her two bottom teeth — and she often tells us stories about her 100 invisible children and her invisible husband. When I tucked her in bed last night, she instructed me to be very careful about where I sat because her invisible husband was sleeping right there on that little blue pillow beside her.
Right now the girls are playing outside in the freshly fallen snow. Baby Girl is reclining in their snow fort, eating a snowball like it’s an apple. Big Girl is busily rolling the snow into beachball-sized balls to add to the fort walls. They’ve already been sledding down the neighbor’s hill in back, and they are probably wet and cold and due to come inside soon. I’m on duty for hot chocolate and snow gear clean up, plus it’s nearly lunchtime, so I must close.
Praying I treasure every moment of the next four years and count every blessing with thanksgiving.