For the first time in two years, Esme won't be taking yoga class.
My little yogini, pictured in the Butterfly Pose when she was 3...
... won't be headed to MIss Jackie's Monday afternoons to balance books on her head, make up animal poses, and learn how to breathe through frustration and anger.
I've been trying for days to figure out why this makes my heart so heavy. I only put the pieces together last night when Kent remarked how tall Esme looked. It's something my mother has remarked on of late as well: how much older and adult-like she's becoming.
The change is stunning sometimes. She walks into a room and I see a stranger almost. Who replaced my baby with a girl?
Her face is thinning, a development that draws particular attention to the delicate uptick of her nose. Her limbs - always lean - seem downright lanky. The most dramatic change, though, centers in her eyes.
Even when she was a baby, Esme bore into people with unnerving intensity: so probing, so serious. But now her eyes seem so mature too. And more vulnerable, like she's finally old enough to know there's a world of hurt that awaits her.
Esme flirted with swim lessons and soccer over the years but lost interest in both. Yoga remained her constant; she's been going every week since she turned 3.
Each Monday, she pulled her leotard and tights from her drawer and readied for class. Never mind that everyone else wore shorts and shirts; Esme insisted on her self-styled uniform. The only modification: she ditched the tights in the summer heat.
More than once, friends stopped their cars to gawk over the terrible sweetness of one of her fanny cheeks and a slice of underpants hanging from her leotard as we walked down the sidewalk.
It's such a precious memory, right? But it's an image of a toddler and she's not that anymore. That's the point. That's the source of the sadness. For me, her toddlerhood and yoga go hand in hand. Shedding one, means shelving the other.
And when I made that connection, I started thinking of two contemporary dances that slay me with their intensity, physicality, rawness and grief. It seems like a tangent, but stay with me here, it's not.
I'm such a crap dancer that I nearly never dance in front of friends or strangers. I'm all wild abandon and absurdity with the children. But others? The fear of judgment paralyzes me.
It comes as a huge surprise to many then that I'm a devout fan of "So You Think You Can Dance." There's a lot of stupid banter and, of late, they're trying too hard to pull heart strings, but at its core it's a show that celebrates dance: gifted dancers and inspired choreography.
I have been profoundly moved by more than a handful of dances over the past several years. So overcome that I search out videos of the dances a year and two years later and play them over and over and over and over.
Last week, one pair danced a contemporary piece that told the story of a woman struggling with fear. Legacy, a b-boy dancer, personified fear and dogged his partner, Kathryn, throughout. At one point, he flung himself onto her waist and wrapped his entire body around her.
Last year, another couple told the story of drug addiction. Kupono attacked Kayla in wild desperation with his arms, his legs, his hands, his lips as she labored to break free and he fought to hang on.
I'm reminded of these pieces because as a mother I feel like the characters these guys are playing: I feel like I'm fighting, scratching, clawing, DYING to keep hold of my babies. Even as they do what they should, do what they need to do, and rip away from me. One arm, one leg, one hand at a time.