She leans in when I kiss her. She cries when I leave the room. She smiles first thing every morning when I put my head over her cradle to say hello. She knows me. Even in a crowd. She knows me.
My baby will be 10 months old by the end of this week. And already she seems to know how much she is loved. She giggles and coos. She is joyful. At her crankiest, she clings to me. Like someone who knows how much they are loved.
Today she started to fall. Just one of those try my independence out for myself, arch my back suddenly, and go for it, kind of things every baby does at some point. Using unknown ninja powers, I managed to catch her in one fluid motion. And she smiled. It was so quick that I barely even saw it, and I was there.
As I looked at her in the safety of my arms, two feet off the ground, my heart was stabbed by the knowledge that I was able to catch her when she started to fall this time, but there will be times when I won’t. Some of them I won’t even know about. There will be scraped knees, fair-weather friends, and boys with deceptively kind eyes. And I won’t always be there. She won’t always even want me to be.
But for now, she is safe. She has never known anything but love. She trusts absolutely, something I have not managed at the age of 33. She has yet to hit the ground after falling. Something I suspect must feel a little like flying. I won’t be the one to tell her differently. Instead, I will soak up her smile, like tulips in the sun. Open to what is, regardless of what’s to come.