She almost puts balsamic in the cookie dough. She calls out, “Mom!” and I use my woman eyes to locate the vanilla. Her friend calls her Car-o-line. Short but long like that, the melody of her full name—my chest clenches in pleasure.

I want to write a poem. This time I have left at the end of the day, the room & space left for my writing. But all I can do is glow as I listen to both of my daughters hang out with their friends. It’s the sound of a song I planned: let’s have two.

It’s an old story I repeat, how I always knew if I had kids I’d have two: for the sound of their voices together. The way they play off of each other. And when their friends are over, there is more glorious noise. I listen but I don’t listen. I bathe myself in the way their voices rise and fall. The unique tones of their friends who have been over again and again.

Now that their years at home are running out, every job I didn’t apply for, every way I constricted myself to be here for that noise: it feels right. Even as it felt wrong in many ways so many times. There’s no need to list them here. We lead conflicted lives. But every time I get to overhear their joy, oh, oh, oh: there’s not a big enough word to describe how my body hums with gratitude.

This is what I came for.

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