Molly requests a flower sandwich for lunch and Lucy earnestly gets the flower cookie cutter from the basket of cookie cutters. "You want a flower too?" I ask her and she nods solemnly. The girls run to get bread, peanut butter, and jelly. Molly gets the two pink plates and Lucy fills their cups with one centimeter of water each then carries them as carefully as she can to the picnic table on the porch. They work together and my heart flutters.
There are times they scream at each other and times when Molly fake cries for a toy Lucy has. But those aren't the things I think of when I'm looking at my daughters. I'm thinking of the times when Molly gives her the purple cup or when Lucy gets a blanket for Molly when they are watching Dora. I feel so proud that Iris can witness the love they share. They share it with her too. Lucy is always mothering her youngest sister, bringing her a binki, giving her contraband toys at night, and giving her food whenever she has any to spare.
The girls are in the bath getting chalk and grass washed off of their sun kissed shoulders. Iris loves to splash. She thinks it is the funniest thing ever. Molly will put up with her, but Lucy screams and cries on the other side of the tub. Molly tries to appease them both by being a shampoo salesman. Lucy cries when her hair is being washed and Molly asks if she can see any birds on the ceiling so she will look up.
Bubbly laughter drifts down to me over the baby monitor. No one sounds like they are sleeping so I let them get up. Molly and Lucy spin and dance in the neighbor's sprinklers while we wait for their brothers. They act like it's Christmas again, waiting to see who will get the first glimpse of the bus so they can wave. The bus turns the corner and the girls race to line their toes up to the crack in the sidewalk they are not allowed to cross and wait impatiently. Sam runs and gives Lucy a hug and Joe lets Molly carry his back pack. They both want a kiss from Iris who is frantically practicing her wave. I lower her and she grabs them with her pudgy baby hands and kisses them while kicking her pigeon toes in delight.
The love that is in our small house weakens me. It breaks me, and builds me up. It give me energy to wake up in the middle of the night so I can shimmy under Iris' crib to get the binki she threw. I tear up seeing their reunion, seeing the hugs they share, the kisses. Molly's adoration in her eyes as she tells Joe about the art work on the patio and how she fell off her bike but didn't cry. Joe stops to look at the scrape on her toe and sincerely tells her she is brave and recommends a mickey mouse bandaid.
Sam slides his arm around me and tells me of his excitement for Jerry to come home. "Dad is going to be so impressed with how hard I'll hit the ball tonight." He says and gives me his famous half smile, one eye squinty. His Daddy is his hero.
They all live for Daddy to come home and when he does it really is Christmas. They all drop what they are doing and run full tilt to the kitchen to meet him at the garage door. They shout, they wave their arms, they pounce on him. Crayon masterpieces, homework with a red '4' on top, and a lego sculpture are presented to him for approval. Lucy brings him his coffee cup from this morning then gets him a blanket. She has a servants heart and wants him to have everything she knows he finds comfort in. He does not disappoint - ever. His faithfulness makes me tear up again. He is faithful to always gush at the kids. Kiss them, tickle them, pretend not to see them when he sits on the couch and squishes them. He gets Sam and they spend an hour playing catch in the yard while Joe is the "catcher" and Molly and Lucy go back to their chalk. Iris sits on my hip and gnaws ferociously on the sleeve of my shirt.
I wish I could take a picture of this and remember it in 20 years when my house is empty and my arms ache for my tiny baby. I want to take a picture that holds the feeling, the weather, the birds, the smiles and giggles and the light in their eyes.
A regular picture will have to do.