Yesterday, it is 109 outside – in the shade – and the melting Texas heat gave way to air conditioning and ceiling fans on full speed. And despite the kids having every toy ever made by man, the boredom factor set in quickly.
By the time the afternoon rolls around, it is time to give them some ice cold milk and put them in front of a show. The other alternatives just seem too harsh: make them clean the gutters, build me a fort of sticks… anything to keep them busy!
I tucked my three girls in, hit play on the DVD player and left the room.
It was an amazingly peaceful 5 minutes.
And then they wanted popcorn. And more milk. And cried when I said no more milk. And then squealed in delight when I gave them the popcorn.
But they never really settled. At least my oldest two didn’t.
I finally did put them to work cleaning the living room. Then instructions were to see who could pick up the most toys and put them in the respective rooms. Winner got bragging rights!
As the older two were fighting over which toys to pick up, I went looking for my two year old, who had been surprisingly silent.
I found her, curled up, hands tucked under her face, legs entwined, sound asleep on my bed.
I could not resist.
I climbed up next to her and watched her sleep.
She is so beautiful.
Her eyes were dancing to the rhythm of the perfect dream, her lips puckering in response, and her little hand jumping at an interval of impact. One side of her hair was matted down with summer sweat, her curls stuck to her little face, reminding me that it is time to have her hair cut once again.
I breathed in what is left of her baby smell. The lingering scents of a new diaper, the baby lotion that had not washed off with her playing in the water in the sink, and the unmistakable smell of baby shampoo, left from a morning bath meant to cool her off.
It is almost over, this time of her life that can be defined as baby. Technically a toddler, I soak in her chubby legs and dimpled hands, praying that the camera has caught her images enough that when memories are smothered in my mind, photos can bring them back.
And I let a saddened tear of time fluttering by, unable to be caught and contained long enough to appreciate it, slide down my face. I’ll miss having babies. I’ll miss this baby.
I have learned that before I know it, I will watch her head off to Kindergarten, cry in my lap over a broken heart, and watch her walk down the aisle to the start of her family. It will all happen tomorrow, in the blink of an eye, while I am paying attention to my oldest going to Kindergarten and my middle daughter learning how to write.
But yesterday… yesterday I pretended like time stood still. Like I had all the time in the world to enjoy what is left of this precious time.
Yesterday… I watched her sleep.
**Originally Published 8/6/2011**