I am having a "moment" tonight. It has nothing to do with the true meaning of Easter Sunday, it's purely personal. It is the kind of moment that I should have seen coming, but didn't want to.
What is it about the eve of this particular holiday that has me feeling so emotional?
I am sitting here alone in the living room, so tired, but I can't get up and go to bed. I'm just taking it in...the sheer innocence of it all. Treat-filled eggs have been strewn around downstairs. Baskets, full of simple treats and treasures sit just below the mantle. A scavenger hunt is ready and waiting, leading to the golden eggs that, over the years, have somehow become the favorite Easter morning tradition. It took almost two hours to get it all ready, and tomorrow morning, it will be torn through in minutes.
I know all of this already, and I can't make myself get up and go to bed. It's like I'm afraid I will blink, and it will be over. Not just the egg hunt, or the scavenger hunt. The innocence.
Why didn't I feel this way on Christmas Eve? I suppose it's because regardless of whether Santa is part of the equation, there is always something about Christmas that will be magical. It's everywhere, and it starts earlier every year. There are so many moments to soak up during the Christmas season.
In comparison, the Easter holiday is but a fleeting moment, which tonight seems to parallel the short period of childhood innocence.
There are a million things I needed to be doing for school this weekend, and I haven't done one of them. I haven't been able to take my eyes and ears off of my children. I couldn't get enough of hearing them talk about Easter morning, and what was in store. More, there were the subtle cues that have me wondering if this will be the last time they go to bed believers.
My six-year old son has been excited for two weeks, asking every day if there were more decorations.
"We have to be ready! We can't miss this holiday! We have to have everything ready for the Easter Bunny!"
Was his abundance of excitement this year a cue for me to truly listen and not miss a single moment of it?
Then there were the questions from my nine-year-old while we decorated the other night.
"So, moms and dads just keep the eggs and the buckets for the hunt at home? They leave them here for the year to help the Easter Bunny?"
Suspicion, loud and clear. Later on, she shook her head at her brother as he bounced in excitement.
"Aren't you a little old for-" she started. The moment I met her gaze, she stopped, like she knew better.
Does she already know better?
I know we have a four-year-old daughter, so in theory, we still have a few years of innocence to fall back on. But this is one of those times that because of her autism, I feel like a stranger to her mind. I am not doubting her intellect at all in what I'm about to say, but I don't know what, if anything, things like the Easter Bunny will ever mean to her. She enjoys hunting eggs and goodie baskets with the same delight as her older siblings, but hasn't really made the "bunny connection" as far as I can tell. I could be mistaken. I hope that I am.
But this could really be it. Tonight may have been the very last time I had to ask my husband "are they asleep yet? Is it safe to get started?"
Easter morning will always be special, but it will never be the same once the innocence of it all is lost.
I'm awake tonight not just because I'm worried about whether my kids will stop believing in the Easter Bunny. I'm awake asking myself a million questions. Have I enjoyed them enough? Have I been present enough? Have I made enough memories for them that they will look back fondly, at these moments? Am I making a huge mistake being back in school when they want to be with me more than they want anything FROM me? Am I sending the wrong message by being so busy with school work? Do they feel like they are less important? Am I doing any of this right? Will I ever feel like I am? Do they know I love them so much just as they are that it aches to see them grow?
I'm sitting here alone tonight, taking in the innocence of their childhood, and I am terrified. I'm terrified that I will blink, and it will all be over.
I really need to go to bed, because my children will surely be up with this sun. I just need a few more minutes...