Like a Baby

She wore the ninja headband to preschool today. We were ten minutes late because she just HAD to paint one more Seahawks-colored rock. HAD to! It’s hard to say “no” when creative genius is at work and when saying “yes” means she gets to stay with me for a few more minutes.

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“Please, oh please wear black lipstick for Halloween,” she begged in the car, “You would just look so BEAU-tiful and so CREEPY! You have to do it.”

I told her I’d think about it.

Sometimes it’s painful spending my days alone with Wanda. When she talks, my cheeks hurt from smiling. When I look at her, my heart travels into my throat and it’s hard to swallow. When she hugs me, my eyes leak.

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Today I was just dropping her off at preschool and she was washing her hands and I started to weep. I wasn’t bawling, but salty emotion water definitely made its way out of my ocular cavities. I didn’t want to leave but I made my way out of the preschool and into my car. I would weigh 400 pounds if I sat around staring at her as often as I want to sit around staring at her.

She’s the last one.

I have been blessed with gorgeous, sweet, adorable little people who have come into my life with huge personalities and endless sweetness and have let me love them. And they’re getting big. And they’re growing independent. They read and make their own breakfast and sometimes even shower.

Laylee’s in middle school and it’s changing her. It’s not bad. Just different. No longer is she the portable little friend who follows me around everywhere I go in her snow white dress. She is a lady-girl. She has things to do and people to see and chores to be annoyed about.

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Magoo isn’t far behind.

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I miss my babies and they’re not even gone.

There was some point a few years ago when I went to a wedding and instead of identifying with the bride, I started identifying with the mother of the bride. Instead of thinking about my own wedding and comparing our dresses and decorations, I wondered what Laylee’s wedding would be like. It scared me.

I am not ready to move on from this phase of my life. I am not ready to be a daytime empty-nester, to have conversations that never involve ninjas or why we don’t paint on our bodies. I am not ready to grow up.

After I left Wanda at preschool, I got in my car and “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri was playing and I cried. I remember when love songs were all about cute boys and romance to me. But being a mom has opened up so many more kinds of love.

You’re-growing-inside-of-me-and-I-feel-like-I-know-you-even-though-we’ve-never-met love
Rock-you-to-sleep-and-stare-at-your-peaceful-face love
Duct-tape-you-into-your-diaper love
As-I-rush-you-to-the-hospital-I question-whether-I’d-be-able-to-go-on-without-you love
Calmly-explain-for-the-hundredth-time-how-the-toilet-flusher-works love
Kick-me-in the-face-all-night-long-but-when-I-carry-you-back-to-bed-I’m-still-overwhelmed-by-how-much-I-love-you love
Let-you-experience-negative-consequences-even-though-it-makes-me-cry-when-you’re-not-looking love
You’re-PMSing-so-I’ll-cut-you-some-slack Love

The list keeps growing. And I guess I’ll keep growing too. I don’t cry every time I think about Wanda starting kindergarten next year and it will probably keep getting easier. But sometimes I have to cry in my car, cry like a baby, because I don’t have any of those anymore.

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