It is Saturday, which feels like a decadent thing to say, but it’s true. It is Saturday. Which means that my husband is still sleeping, three of my daughters are downstairs cuddled up together under a blanket, watching cartoons, my son is whispering too loudly as he plays by himself in his room, and my two year old has not yet woken. It is bliss, this quiet before the storm. It feels like surely there must be peace on earth. And there is, at least in my little corner.
A bird is singing a tentative song, from the tree just north of my bedroom window. The sky is hazy, a pastel water colored painting, silently waiting for hands more skilled than my own to make happen. It is the kind of morning that promises things. For the first time in weeks, I feel likely to believe them.
As if on cue, the sun has just made its way, all shoulders and excuse me’s through the crowd that had gathered, until finally finding its way to the front. My gauzy white curtains glow the lightest shade of yellow, diffusing the light, just a little, until every gray shadow of my room has turned to butter.
The indecisive sky outside has seemed to finally make up its mind, turning from blueish gray/grayish blue to blue. I am thinking of my little baby, now two, but definitely still my baby. This child who cannot fall asleep until you have given her your voice in song. How many times have I stood by her crib, and sang to her as she battled against sleep, before finally succumbing to its victory? Footie pajamas are not adequate armor, after all.
She calls out requests, no that’s not true, she calls out demands, of what the next song will be. And we stand there, taking turns, but mostly me, singing like a human jukebox on a small town Friday night. Row Your Boat is still her favorite. She surely loves that song more than anyone has loved that song in years, maybe ever. It was the first thing that she ever sang, and she’s been filling our house with it ever since. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, ba-boat…..me, me, me, me, hmmm, mmm, meme!” She yells from the confines of her cherry wood sleigh shaped bed, “Whoa boat!” she says, again and again.
Then, when we are ready to walk away, she pleads in a pitiful voice for “Sushight.” And I begin. Sunshine is more than just her middle name, it feels also like it is her birthright. This child who surprised me, when I was sure that I was done. This child who continues to teach me about what it means to love. You make me happy, when skies turn gray…. and then the part that just kills me, you’ll never know dear, how much I love you…. Because, won’t she?
Won’t she someday look down at the baby sleeping in her own arms, and be broken completely by how much a human can love? Won’t she watch her finest things be shattered, family heirlooms lying in pieces on a hardwood floor, and look up, thinking only of protecting the heart of the child that disobeyed and broke them? Before that, won’t she one day try to untangle the mass of teenage emotions, and still see her true reflection in my eyes? Will she ever know how much she matters, both in this life, and to her Mommy?
I have eighteen years, now less than sixteen, to prepare her to leave me. That doesn’t seem like enough time to show someone that they are both loved and lovely. Not when there is so much trying to get in the way, all the dinners to cook, and a house that seems to unravel by the hour. When there are groceries and school supplies, and so much clothes, always needing me to buy them. But it has to be.
There has to be kindness, and sacrifices on my part. There has to be singing, and teaching, and praising. There has to be grace, and patience beyond reason. Communication, understanding, and so much holding. There has to be listening, and discipline, and cooking. The hard things must be done to the best of my ability. When it’s easier to leave, there must be staying. There has to be an abundance of love.
Now, freshly waking, she calls to me. “Hi Mama,” she says, dimples flashing. And, while it doesn’t change the color of my curtains, her smile changes everything. “Hi, baby,” I say, thankful that I don’t have to go anywhere else today. My only plans are to love my family, because, today is Saturday.