I ran into a young lady today, whom I have known for many years now but have not seen in ages. She was all grown up, had just graduated from college. She was longer, leaner, more graceful than I remembered. We talked briefly about her plans; travel, gap years, resumes. We chatted about getting together soon to catch up properly.
Later on in my evening, it was routine as usual.
At 7:30 I started to bring my rambunctious little peanut upstairs for her bath and snack time. ( Which means, she eats a yogurt in the tub. I’m not sure why she does this, or why that is the only place she will eat yogurt. I don’t care, actually, as long as she consumes something with calories).
At 8 p.m. we begin the story time. She walks over to her bookshelf, picks out a book, brings it back to me in the glider, raises her hands to be lifted onto my lap, says, “Da-Doo” (Which means, Thank-you) and we read. This continues for approximately 5 books.
After a few yawns and eye rubs, we put the books away, and turn out the light. She cries upon realizing that it is, in fact, bedtime. We dance slowly, singing songs softly while she squirms to get out of my arms. After she bites me, I put her down in her crib and walk away. She cries harder, apologizes and then holds her arms. We dance and sing again while the sun goes down. She puts her head on my shoulder. Then moves it down to my elbow. Then wants to be held length-wise. Then, right-side up again. When she is so over-tired and can’t calm down, she puts her arms around my neck and holds my lips to her forehead so tightly her arms shake. This when I begin to pray. For strength. For peace. For rest. For sleep.
This continues. For now, fifteen months. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes for her to sigh her deep, “Ok you can leave now, I don’t require your presence anymore” sigh. Sometimes it takes hours. Sometimes, I cry because I am so tired. So angry. So, so something.
But tonight as I watched it grow darker in her green room, I, for one moment, saw her as a college graduate. Sitting across the table from me at Panera, chattering excitedly about her plans to travel overseas for a year. With long legs and big eyes, and dreams that may take her far from my fingers. And I am glad that she is still small enough for her head to fit in the hollow of my neck. That she smells like Baby soap and sunscreen and strawberries. That she’s my little girl, if only for a little bit longer.
I am glad.