She comes into the living room, galloping clumsily, her little pink Converse shoes slapping against the floor.
"Hey Mom! I want to wear my feetie-feetie pajamas!"
Trying to clean up the last of dinner, I barely glance up at her, tell her to go pick out any pajamas she wants. The house is a mess, homework isn't done, and we are running about ten minutes late on bath time.
It's just she and I; her brother and Daddy gone on a quick adventure to "the big hill" to alleviate some of his anxiety.
I hear her open her armoire, I yell, "Don't make a mess--don't throw all of your clothes on the floor!"
"I won't, Mom!"
I throw the dishes into the sink, sigh at the mess on the counter, grab some cleaning supplies and head to the bathroom to start the bath. She's still shuffling through her clothes and I feel the impatience rising in my chest, burning up into my throat, threatening to come out in a rush of angry words. Instead, I plug the tub, turn the water on, squirt some bubble bath at the hissing stream.
"Amelia, right now! Start taking your clothes off!" I yell, not quite keeping the irritation out of my voice. My mind is wandering to the ten things I have to do after the kids go to bed--there are lunches to be made and I have work emails just waiting for responses.
I walk into her room; she's standing with her pants around her ankles, shoes still on, playing intently with a necklace.
"That's it! You are not following directions! Let's get those clothes off NOW!" I pick her up, pull her shoes off in one quick tug, yank her pants off, pull her shirt over her head. She doesn't make any noise, just looks at me, and the guilt immediately washes over me. I take the bow out of her hair gently, she asks if she can take some toys into the tub. I say yes, whatever she wants; I'm feeling bad about losing my temper.
She gets into the tub, and I assume my position on the floor. She plays quietly with her Minnie Mouse and I watch. She pretends Minnie is swimming, makes her talk in a raspy, high-pitched voice, her eyes wide as Minnie dives deeper into the water. I start to relax. The house is unusually quiet with just her and I there, and it's peaceful.
Suddenly, she looks up. Looks me square in the eye.
"Mom, am I your baby girl?"
My breath catches--I'm hoping she's not doubting me.
"Of course! You are always my baby girl! You're my favorite baby girl. My very favorite girl in the WHOLE. ENTIRE. WORLD."
And then, she smiles and looks at me in a way that she's never looked at me before. It's a look that says she completely understands what I'm saying, everything I'm trying to convey with those words. She sees that they are an apology, a statement that, in its most simplest terms, tells her that she is half of my heart. My big love. I am positive, as I look into those gorgeous hazel eyes with mile-long lashes, that she understands me.
She smiles, and she says, "Thank you, Mom."
She's growing up, this one. She's smart, and funny, and caring, and patient with me. She's amazing, and I never, ever want to take her for granted because she is a true miracle. Teaching me every single day. Love.
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