She came out of her room three times tonight, dragging her white blankie, her ragged bunny, a bouncy ball and a cat pillow with her. She would discreetly lay down next to the wall within eye shot of my bed, glancing up at me to see if I saw her, and then quickly pretend to be asleep when I would look at her, eyelids fluttering, a hint of a smile on her face, completely serious about sleeping on the floor. The first time I carried her back to her bed, tucked her in and kissed her good night. The second time I made her a little bed out on the floor in the hall, telling her to go to sleep or else. But the third time I looked up to see her bashfully standing in my doorway, dressed in her pink santa jammies, curly hair wild, smiling a little crooked smile and saying “Cats! Hats!” (her pillow has cats wearing hats on it).
My heart melted, and I told her to come to me so I could hold her. She climbed into my lap and I asked her where she wanted to sleep tonight. She grinned and said, “Mom’s ded (bed)”, and she quickly crawled over my protruding belly and onto Dale’s side. We have a strict no sleeping with mom policy, but sometimes I feel nostalgic and sad that time is passing by so fast and my days are full of everything else but spending time with her. I gave in. I cuddled up next to her, and she looked over at me with her pretty doe eyes. She excitedly whispered, “swimmin’! ‘self!”, because just yesterday she went swimming on her own with floaties on and found a new type of independence. She’s been so proud since then.
Much rolling and tossing and turning ensued after. He little eyes fluttered, sometimes wide awake and staring, sometimes barely open, fidgety, trying to find a comfortable spot on all the pillows and sheets and body in the bed. Finally, she faced me and snuggled into a nest of pillows, lacing her little fingers through mine. I started singing her some primary songs, and gradually I felt her breathing slow and deepen, her body relax and her eyes still. I tangled my fingers into her curly hair, and rested my forehead on hers. Her soft hair tickled my nose and I could feel her sweet breath on my face, slow and even. I faintly smelled her coconut shampoo and twisted a particularly curly ringlet around my fingers, marveling at how very beautiful she was. I traced her tiny fingers with mine, feeling how soft and delicate and babyish they were, her fingernails rudely painted purple and red with nail polish, curators of such silliness during the day. Her forehead beaded with sweat, so I pushed her hair back and kissed her baby cheeks, because although she seems grown, those chubby cheeks keep the toddler at bay during the night. Kissable, sweet and home to so many broad smiles brought by childhood happiness, I see my baby in those cheeks when she’s peacefully dreaming of sunglasses or her daddy (both which she woke up crying about the last few nights).
Right now, she has her arm entwined with mine, and I think about the little tummy that I nourished, the curly hair that I created, those perfect cheeks that I know how to make smile – they inspired me tonight. I love her beyond my best words. She’s perfect. I want to remember that forever.
We got some family pictures taken the other day, and I snapped the shot above, trying to capture the beautiful light and my daughter looking ethereal. I wanted more, so dressed her up and went to find more beautiful light and the last summer flowers. Turns out I'm not so good at catching pretty light....but still. She's just so beautiful it makes me want to cry like a hormonal postpartum mom (wait...i am that).