The signs are there when she sees them. Her children choosing to read books on a long car ride, instead of constant chatter. The muscles in her daughter's small calves, her long legs strong enough to do a 1 1/2 mile hike. Her son opening a door for her, an experiment in manly manners that she hopes will stick.
The car seats will find new homes; friends with younger children. The sandbox is moving out. The beat-up play structure is next. Plans for an active outdoor space - a trampoline, a large punching bag, over sized pillows to jump on.
Her daughter can read aloud now, intent on each word, frustration flaring if she doesn't grasp it at once. She tries to encourage her to take it in smaller syllables, sounding them out. Hard for her girl who likes to achieve...quickly.
Her son comes up to her chest, more than half her height. He's not tall, but neither is she. He shies away from hard work, which scares her a bit. Visions of adolescence, a handful of years ahead, and her failings, if he doesn't get the value in hard work.
Winter clothes divided between those that will not see another season, and those that will. Donations, throw-aways, one treasured shirt saved. Spring clothes taken out of storage bins, the bright colors welcoming in their newness.
Her son, the little rooster, sleeps in later now. Yet, still up with the sun. His sister with the gift of deep sleep. She, not waking when he chats himself to sleep, nor when he wakes up with the gift of gab in the light of a new day.
In her quest and burning desire to have a family, she did not understand that having children is a young person's game. The wisdom of age stretches...yet, the energy of youth cannot be overstated. She hopes her children will not remember her as tired, because often she is...
Their hands are still small, and reach for hers. Her lap still big enough, if their heads are tucked into the side of her neck. Bedtime not complete without being tucked-in, a lullaby song...trailing off. Their soft cheeks forever emblazoned on her lips...