Yesterday Charlie and I were finishing our afternoon walk in our usual fashion- with him hopping out of the stroller and running alongside me, all the way home. His little legs are always my favorite part- all of that energy moving so fast- a tiny blur in double time. We ran back in happy anticipation of Henry and Hank being home, and as we ended our run in the driveway, Charlie did a jump and yelled, "We're home!"
Later that night as I was tucking both Henry and Charlie into bed, I thought back to when we bought this house. It was the fall of 2010, and I was very pregnant with Henry. I walked our street countless times that Fall- trying to stay as active as possible, even though my new large belly made me feel like I was waddling more than anything. But I would walk up and down our street, all on my own, while Hank was at work. I would swing my arms and take one step after another, resting my hands on my belly from time to time, and I would daydream of the baby that would soon be here. It was getting colder that November, so every afternoon I would leave the house with a sweatshirt over my baby bump, walk and walk and walk, and think about how life was about to change.
Henry arrived on November 22. It was an unplanned c-section but recovery went well, and I was back up and walking within a few weeks. This time on our walk though, I wasn't alone- my new friend was there now too. I would push, push, push that stroller- so slowly in the beginning as my body healed- and we would walk all afternoon. The sunshine and the cold temps revived me, and even though we had to bundle up before leaving the house each day, I felt as if I was shedding layers.
For close to three years it was Henry and me and our walks. Just the two of us. Hank would join us in the evenings, and as time went on we went from Henry in his infant carseat clicked into the frame, to sitting up in the stroller itself, to bouncing along while we jogged.
Then again, I was pregnant. Henry and I would walk still, me pushing the stroller, my stomach growing once again until I had to push the stroller further away from my body just to stay comfortable as we moved. There I was again, waddling up and down the street as those nine months flew by, until August 16th arrived and so did our Charlie.
Another c-section, another recovery, but again I was up and walking soon and this time, there were three of us! I can remember that beautiful chaos well, especially those first days. Sometimes Charlie would be crying, and Henry would be yelling, and I would feel so overwhelmed and just try to push that double stroller as quickly as I could home. Go, go, go I would tell myself, as the echo of a toddler temper tantrum and the cries of a newborn echoed behind us like a trail of very un-musical notes. Other days it was quiet, perhaps one or both of the boys napping, me alone with my thoughts, sweating as I pushed up hills and down again, feeling so good to be outside, simply moving.
And then last night, there we were: two-year old and me, him running alongside the empty stroller as we hurried home to see big brother and Daddy. I couldn't have imagined this, you know. When I would walk along and dream of what it would all be like, I never dreamed there would be this little person running next to me, smiling and laughing, heading down the hill and then seeing another bigger child alongside my husband, arms outstretched. The realness of these moments in contrast to what I had hoped for, it's so sharp and real I could cry. And I do. And not because it's different than what I imagined, but because my dreams have become real and this is so powerful and emotional to me that it hurts in the very best way possible.
Our street has seen a lot. It's felt my footsteps get heavier with two babies, it's supported strollers and skateboards and scooters and bikes as those babies grew and grew. We walk up the street, we walk back down. We walk all the way home, into our driveway, and through the door. All of the changes- from a young married girl about to have a baby, to a mama of one, to being pregnant again, to chasing two wild boys and their runaway soccer ball, the story that's unfolded on this street is a beautiful one. It's home.