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35 Pounds

35 pounds.

By now, I’ve got it down to a science.  An odd science. A contradictory one, even ­­— relying upon so little to accommodate so much.

Parenting is kinda like that. At least, that’s what I’ve always thought. Many of the lessons I try to teach my kids are all-encompassing ones. Yet I have to be as concise as possible or my little ones will lose the lesson in all the verbiage. Brief but thorough is the best way to get the point across. Maybe the only way, even.

So, yeah, 35 pounds. On the one hand, I suppose, quite a lot. But on the other, not much at all. Unless you’re a four-year-old. They think it’s a ton. And, believe me; they’ve given it plenty of thought, obsessing over it almost as much as I have.

Which makes me appreciate just how much they’ve grown. Because this time it’s so much more real to them than any of the previous times.

And it’s that thought which begets the chill that quickly works its way down my spine as I wonder if I forgot ibuprofen. But I didn’t. It’s in there.

We trick ourselves, you know. Into thinking we’re savoring it sufficiently. That we’re appreciating it more than we are. Which is why we’re often shocked at how big they’ve become despite the fact they’ve been becoming just that right before our very eyes day in and day out. Again with the contradictions, as the knife of age cuts both ways. It’s so wonderful to see them grow. Yet not too much, too quickly. Lest we realize we’ve not appreciated it like we should have.

Caroline and I get stuck in that place in between quite a bit. Accidentally wishing for a time of more leisure. A night of more sleep.

Hard to blame us on the one hand. These first two months of Grande Finale’s life have been extreme. Just a little time for ourselves, we’ll wish, looking forward with envy to a time when it won’t be quite as all-encompassing. Just as hard, certainly, but not as all-encompassing.

And that’s when we realize that we’re inadvertently wishing these precious moments away.

And it’s the same with my 35 pounds, you see. Because I long for the time I’ll spend with it, even as it dwindles to 30. Then 25. Yet, during a difficult stretch, the tears sometime literally well up. They come from that place inside that’s not appreciative enough. The one that wants it to be over despite how much I’ve longed for it. Because it’s hard.

Like parenting, the tough stretch will eventually pass. And, like parenting, another tough stretch will be back tomorrow. And the next day. So you just gotta get good with it and focus on the things that make it so beautiful. And try not to accidentally wish it away. Because when it’s over, it’s over. And you can’t get it back.

That’s why we take pictures, you know.

But back to them. The triplets. My first biological children. The once-premature babies who can now knock the air out of me with a good hug. And knock my socks off with their charm.  charm the socks off of me. And talk back. I’m glad they’re obsessed over this one. I’m glad they’re old enough to appreciate it, even if that appreciation is clouded with wonder. Because, after all, it’s still appreciation.

I learned last night that Kirby’s appreciation comes largely from aesthetics. She told me she thinks it’s pretty ”‘ the way the blue contrasts with my brown bandana. But Sam and Jack are less concerned about the outside and are more into what’s on the inside. The stuff that’s minimalistically all-encompassing. They asked to see all of it once again, and I obliged by unpacking in six easy steps — one for each of the bags neatly packed therein. And my boys reveled in the process, clearly smitten with the rough and tumble element of it all.

They come by it naturally. Innately, even.

Sam asked to see the map, so I stretched it across the kitchen table so we could all look at it together. He pointed to a profile that detailed a 1700-foot gain over a three-mile stretch.

“Will that part be hard, Daddy?”

“Yes. It will.”

“How much does it weigh?” Jack asked (yet again) as he pointed to my backpack.

“About 35 pounds.”

“Is that a lot?”

“Considering it’s everything I’ll use for five days? Not really,” I said. “But it’s almost as much as you weigh.”

That really impressed him, or so I gathered by his face that registered equal parts awe and wonder. “Why do you do it, Daddy?” he asked.

“Do what?”

“Walk up and down the mountains.”

“I’m not sure,” I said. “But if I figure it out, I’ll tell you when I get back.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

And while I’m really not sure why, exactly, I take these trips, I do know one thing. My kids and Caroline are at the very center of whatever it is that compells me. So much so, that they may as well be inside that pack, too.

Only then it’d be more than 35 pounds. So it’s probably better that I carry them in my heart.

Don’t you think?

Image: Loimere via Creative Commons

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