Our Sunday drive this past weekend took us to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge down the Bitterroot Valley, where our intended one-or-two-hour outing turned into a five-hour, linger-happily-in-the-wilderness family adventure. With the golden light in the shadow of St. Mary's peak, the lush green grasses of spring in the riparian zone, and piles of soft, white, washed-up-by-the-river sand to play in, no one wanted to go home.
Red-winged blackbirds, which are my favorite for their throaty, warbling song, danced around us on the cattails, warning us from their reedy nests.
All the female Yellow-headed blackbirds gathered together to chat while their mates remained vivid guardians at the water's edge.
We watched a Great Blue Heron catch fish, patiently waiting, tilting his head and bob-walking slowing through the water, then striking with a speed that was thrilling to see. The kids jumped and cheered, then gasped as a larger bird of prey (Golden Eagle?) swooped at it in an attempt to steal the hard-won meal.
There was a moment, as we walked along the swollen Bitterroot river, the kids running ahead, finding treasures among the sticks and rocks and wildflowers, Brian and I strolling behind, when I thought, "It only keeps getting better, doesn't it? This Mammahood thing." And then immediately I knew that thought wasn't quite right...because if I deemed the moments that came each new day as better, wasn't I then somehow discounting those that came before? And those moments--baby on my breast, tiny hand clinging to my finger, little sleeper on my shoulder, preschooler proudly reciting ABCs-- those were the best.
But these moments I have now--thinkers who tell me about their inventions over breakfast, bookworms who beg to go to the library, naturalists who keep pet worms in an old dirt-filled rain boot on the back deck--they are the best too. I think it's the fact that the old moments never leave me; the memories simply become the root from which the new moments grow. The babies who are our children who will someday be our teenagers and our grown-ups will always, at the heart of everything that is our family, still be our purpose and joy. And for Brian and I, that means that every moment (even the hard ones!) can be better than the best.
Hope your Mamma moments are better than the best.