He made it home last night after two days away, only to be called back again to mind the floodwaters in the north. Both babies finally slept, breathing slowly beside one another. I climbed over two tiny bodies and found his, warm and safe and breathing slowly, too. I woke him gently and he held me there for a while. Touching skin to skin has been so rare since Finn arrived. I drink in the smell of him, the warmth of him under my hands, whenever I can.
After a while, he slipped back into a khaki colored shirt and pants and fastened a belt around his waist. He stuffed clothes and toothpaste and cords and knives back into a pack and balanced it on one shoulder.
"I'll see you soon," he told me. "You'll be alright. I'm proud of you."
"You'll be alright. I'm proud of you," I repeated, nodding.
He left while the moon was still high in the sky.
For the last two mornings, I have woken before them both. Finn is tucked against my left breast, nipple hanging from his mouth. He grunts and squirms and opens one eye, and I pat him on the bum to settle him. Aspen is on my right, head against my armpit. It's tight here, in one room. We are always in a pile, arms tangled with legs tangled with diapers and pajamas and sheets and socks and milk, milk, milk. I am somehow enchanted by the smallness of our space, though. There's something magic about the closeness of it all. I have been learning patience, and gentleness, and the art of speaking softly.
I've found, too, that being alone with them both makes me a better mother. When there is no longer an option, when mothering is the only thing I must do, I do it much more gently, with more grace, with more flexibility. With each breath, I surrender to the greatness of what I'm doing. I am a home. A harbor. A light. Subtle. Enormous. Surrounding.
I think that this is what I'm meant for, after all.