• • • • • • • • •
She runs away from me, squealing, as I try to put her Pull-Up on.
"S, come here now!"
Frustrated, I chase her down and thread her legs through the night-night diaper as we call it.
"What book do you want to read?"
Still laughing, she starts baby talking to be silly.
"S, choose a book or we aren't reading one!" My pulse is racing by this point.
"Ok, ok. Umm, this one."
Inwardly I groan. "Hop on Pop" is longer than what I have time for tonight. I'm supposed to meet the neighbor out front in 10 minutes to go for a walk. I need to start exercising again and finding a partner to walk with is a huge step in the right direction.
"All right." I begin reading quickly and skip a few words here and there.
S interrupts me, "Why did they fall off the wall?"
"I don't know, honey." I continue reading, and S continues peppering me with questions. "Let's just finish the story, ok?"
The day's unfinished tasks scroll through my mind. Finally, the book is over. I turn off the light and turn on her music. Currently, she's fond of listening to Journey's Greatest Hits. I lie down with her for two songs, our agreed upon timeframe.
"Let's snuggle," she says, wiggling over to me.
"Ok," I say, a bit surprised. Lately she's more interested in Daddy than me.
She puts her arm around my neck. "I love you, Mama."
My heart melts a little, the beat slows. "I love you, too, baby. So, so much."
"Don't Stop Believin'" ends. The iPod shuffles. "Who's Crying Now" starts. Lying still, I decide to just go for the walk and not worry about the laundry tonight.
A long pause. "I..."
"What is it, baby?"
"I really love you."
"Aw, honey, I really love you, too."
A small, three-year-old hand reaches for mine in the dusk. I remind myself to savor these fleeting moments. I breathe in her freshly-washed hair, feel her soft fingers tracing the shape of my hand as I used to do to my mother. I knew Mom's hands as well as my own and wonder if S will remember mine when she has a child someday.
The second song ends. I kiss S on the forehead, and start to get up.
"Mama, could you please stay til I fall asleep?"
"Of course, baby."
The walk will have to wait.