My favorite part of July 4th was watching my children with sparklers.
The way the glow from the sparklers lit up their faces, which were filled with wonder, made my heart grow.
It revealed how childlike they really were, and how their features were still so young. Kate, especially, was all rounded cheeks and dark lashes. I know how trying 3 is — every single day — but in those moments last Sunday night, I was reminded that she is still closer to baby than kindergartener, at least until the baby-chub does finally melt away for good — as it did with Flora, when she was 4. I count down to Kate’s 4th birthday because I am hoping that the constant challenge that she throws up at me will at least be tempered somehow simply by getting older, but I know too, that those rosy rounded cheeks, so evident when she is sleeping, will slim down. That she will take another step into girl-hood.
The other thing, for me, watching my children’s fascination, is harder to articulate. It wasn’t rediscovering my own child-like wonder. It was a whole new wonder, the wonder of a mother. I was struck anew by the fact that I created (with quite a lot of help, of course) these creatures, these wholly separate beings.
Watching their wonder was witnessing something outside of myself, yet part of myself.
Does that make sense?
It wasn’t the magic of the fireworks that captivated me. It was the miracle of the magic of my children. I want to say “the miracle of life” but I don’t want to sound all new-agey or gooshy.
It was Flora’s immediate embrace of the hissing, sparking stick in her hand. It was Kate dropping her first sparkler in fear before it even got lit. It was Flora writing her name and making shapes in the air with fire. It was Kate running, whooping through the yard, sparkler aloft, as if declaring victory over the night.
It was realizing I had launched these girls into the world, that while I was wholly responsible for them, they would go away from me and discover new and magical things, things at once beautiful and potentially painful. And that I can no more call them back from their discoveries than keep them small, wonder-filled children. And that as scary as that fact is, I am thrilled, simply thrilled, to be held witness.