Every day when I pick up Shaya from preschool, he runs to me, down the hall, arms open wide, ready to jump into my arms. I can’t help myself when I see his cute round face, alight with eagerness to return to me.

I open my eyes like wings to fly and run, too, down the hall until we reach each other, both smiling and electric, and he jumps into my arms and I scoop him up and close, holding him there, breathing in his soft soft scent.

I knew motherhood was going to be spectacular but I couldn’t have told you what it would feel like until I lived it.

I write here frequently about how I miss Oregon – my one-week solo trip last summer, scaling mountains and tasting new flavors. I do. I miss the freedom to travel and the excitement of exploration.

But I don’t really yearn to be somewhere else. Vacations are wonderful because they’re rare, at least for me.

It is hard when living in the moments to recount them quickly. Because I don’t have my children with me all the time, I have more time than many parents to reflect on moments with them and savor the little details.

Last night, I dreamt that I took Eliana and Asher to a water park. Somewhere in the crowds and the rides and water slides, I lost both of them. And the rest of the dream was a frantic rush to find my babies – climbing stairs and poring through rooms.

When I finally found Asher, just before I awoke, he was one of hundreds of boys in summer-camp configuration with counselors and sitting on rows of benches. I simply called his name, “Ashi! Ashi!” And he leapt up and said, “Here I am!” And I scooped him into my arms and held him tight to me and didn’t let go. I woke up then and, eyes closed, could almost feel my son’s skinny warm body pressed to mine, his heart beating in sync with mine.

My kids are in public school now and as such, they are poised to celebrate their first Valentine’s Day this week. Eliana has been busy for the past week furiously coloring hearts that I cut out of notebook paper.

The playroom table is covered in marker streaks and those hearts, they are so damn beautiful – her little, still-pudgy hands painted in marker, too, the hearts signed Love, Eliana, her dedication to the task at hand so complete. I’ve sat there with her in a kid-sized chair, just to watch her focus and create.

My children are my everything. I’ve always resisted defining myself according to others, but you know, I have become my best self because of them. Truly.

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