Wednesday, May 29, 2013

17 years

The cicadas have descended upon the east coast.  They have been living in the ground for 17 years.  As I stood at the playground the other day with my girls I saw all of the holes in the earth where the cicadas emerged.  There was an entire world of these insects directly beneath my feet for all of the hours that I have spent in that park for the last 10 years. When I pushed Sierra in the baby swing these creatures were there.  As I caught Laurel recklessly flying down the slide, they were with us.  And now, as I help Cadence climb on the jungle gym, I see their shells and listen to their mating call.   Their drone is constant throughout the day.  It sounds extraterrestrial to me.  As if any minute I will see a spaceship lift out of the woods and ascend into the sky.  I love the sounds.  It has the soothing quality of a white noise machine (although I know that not everyone holds this same opinion!).

In just a few weeks they will disappear.  The females will lay their eggs and the nymphs will burrow into the ground.  It will be 17 years before I hear them again.  For some reason this fills me with a deep sadness.  I realized why this was the other day.  Brad and the girls were talking about the cicadas cycle, the 17 years, and how old they will be the next time that we hear their call.  Yes.  This is why. 

Cadence will have just turned 21 years old.  Is it too much to hope that she will just be tasting wine for the first time as the cicadas get ready to appear?  Laurel will be 25 years old.  She will be the age I was when I walked down the aisle.  Will I be helping Laurel pick out her wedding dress the next time the cicadas sing?  Sierra will be 27 years old.  She will be the age that I was when she made me a mother. Will I be swinging my (gasp!) grandchild as the cicadas emerge from the ground?  (Okay, seriously, that last line kind of made me nauseous!)

I know that there is no stopping it.  There is no slowing it down. Even on the hardest days, the ones filled with whining, fussing, and arguing, I try to not wish the time away.  Seventeen years from now seems like a lifetime at this moment.   Yet, I'm getting ready for my 20 year high school reunion.  There are many moments when it seems like high school was just last week.  I  know that the next time the cicadas appear in the trees I will think about this time.  The time when the days sometimes lasted forever and I wanted to leap forward to bedtime or a time when the word "no" didn't result in a complete meltdown.  Yet I know that these next 17 years will pass by before I can even realize that it is happening.  And I will long for those days when I held my giggling girls in my arms and watched them collect cicada shells and listened to the hum of creatures that are as fleeting as time itself.

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