I can't think of fall without remembering when I became a mom.
With Benjamin and Grace both having September birthdays - and Gary's falling on the same day as his daughter's - autumn and babies go hand in hand, much like chocolate and peanut butter.
The calendar change from August to September and the temperature transformation that inevitably follows mark a life-altering period for me, when my focus changed from two to three and continued to grow from there.
I remember seeing the tragedy of Sept. 11 unfold on TV as I held a sleeping baby on the couch days after returning home from the hospital. My hormones already kicked in their gut from pregnancy, I couldn't control my tears or fears for the world and for the life I had brought into it.
I can taste the meatloaf, mashed potatoes and pumpkin bars my mom brought during her several weekday trips to visit so I could nap, run errands or do laundry after Gary had returned to work.
I can feel the crunch of leaves beneath the stroller's wheels and my feet as I would get out several times a day for a walk around the neighborhood, the length of which was determined by baby's mood.
I can feel the warmth of an infant on my chest wrapped snugly around me in the Baby Bjorn as I watched my much younger brother play high school football.
I can hear the sounds of Ben crying during our umpteenth interruption of "Chocolat" with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, the first movie we watched after his birth.
All of these memories come back each fall, and I'm always happy to see them return, much like tulips after a harsh winter.
As we throw the parties, bake the cakes and unwrap the presents, not only do we mark their birthdays and "our birthday season," as I affectionately refer to this time of year, but I celebrate my induction into motherhood.
And for my wishes coming true, too.
- Julie Gilkay: 920-993-1000, ext. 319, or email@example.com. On Twitter @JulieGilkay. She is the mother of Benjamin, 12, Grace, 10, and Lucas, 8.