Today, after work, I picked up my daughter from my friend’s house (thank friend, I love you), and buckle her in her car-seat to head home. The drive wasn’t long, and as I unbuckled her once we arrived home, she said “I walk.” As in, she wants to walk inside, not be carried. So I gather up the diaper bag and my purse and her little lunch bag and set her down on the ground.
“Hold my hand please.” She complies. We step up onto the sidewalk, carefully step up a couple of steps, and very carefully step down a few more steps. She immediately lets go of my hand. She knows this is a safe place and that she’s allowed to run ahead to our door. She points at my keys. “Keys!” She points at the door. “Door!” She points at and simultaneously touches the exterior dryer vent and says “No touch!” Well, at least she listens?
I open the door and she immediately runs inside and tries to close the door before I can step over the threshold. “Please let mama inside, Bri.” She’s already tornado danced into the living room and is happily dismantling a pile of books by the fireplace while talking incessantly, some real words, some not. Before I have had time to lock the door, drop my purse and the diaper bag by the front door and put my keys down on the kitchen counter, Briana has spread her book collection across the living room, dumped out her toy box, and run into her bedroom in search of more books.
As I exit the kitchen, she meets me there, book in hand, and drops down to the floor. “Book!” She wants me to read. I sit behind her and pull her into my lap and we go through her “First 100 Words” book 100 times, right there on the hallway floor. She can say many more of them than she used to be able to. Truck. Strawberry. Car. Cup. Bear. Bird. Kitty. Many more. I hug her close. She’s growing up too fast, learning too quickly.
Suddenly, she is tired of the book. She flies away. “Food! Yum. Food? Cracker. Cracker. Milk. Food.” Dinner time.
I decide to give her a no-cook dinner, simple and no-fuss, since it’s so hot outside and she won’t eat much of it anyway. I put her in her booster seat and give her yogurt, and am shocked when she says “Yogurt! Yum!” Another word I didn’t know she knew. She takes three bites of yogurt while I’m cutting up her strawberries and grapes. Then she dips her hand in it and puts a glob of it on the back of her head and rubs it in. Good thing it’s hair wash day anyway.
She gobbles down her dinner and then demands to be let down. “Down. Out. Down. Out. All gone!” I release her from her booster chair prison, and she tries to turn on the television. I start her bath, and wrangle her into her room to get her undressed. I help her stand up and say “Bath time, Bri. You’d better run!” She runs, laughing and naked, into the bathroom while I chase her saying “Run run run! Bath time!” It’s one of her favorite games, being chased to the bath.
She even has books in her bath, “bath books” that are made out of a plastic material. She looks at her books while I wash the yogurt glob out of her hair. She giggles and kicks her feet and says “tickles” when I wash her toes.
I get her dressed in her pajamas, comb her hair, brush her teeth. She sits down and plays with her castle, then reads a couple of books. I watch her growing before my very eyes, and choke back tears. Silly me.
We read her Frozen book before bed. It’s actually two books, one from Anna’s perspective, one from Elsa’s. She loves it. She cries when I put it away and tell her it’s bedtime, but when I kiss her face and tell her to get into bed, she gathers up her blanket and lays down on her pillow, reaches up her arms for a hug. “I love you baby Bri.” “‘Uv oo mama.” My heart melts. I kiss her forehead and tell her “Sleep good, baby. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I walk out of her room and shut the door. I am greeted by a mess. My purse and the diaper bag have been dumped out by the front door where I left them sitting, contents strewn halfway down the hallway. My shoes are kicked off by the kitchen, her sandals are in the middle of the hallway. There are toys on the kitchen floor, toys in the hallway, toys on the couch and on the floor in the living room. Her books are everywhere. Her clothes from earlier are in the dining room, where she apparently put them after I got her out of her bath. Her dinner is still on the table, and under the table, and on the chair. There is water all over the floor in the bathroom, and her toothbrush is sitting by the sink, not yet rinsed.
Today was long, and Bri was a bundle of energy when we got home, while I was exhausted and ready to fall asleep where I stood. I played with her anyway, let her makes messes, laughed with her, delighted over every new word that came out of her mouth, just drank all of her in, enjoyed spending time with her. This is a typical “I worked until 4:30 and got home at 5:15” day. That’s not always my schedule, but when it is, this is usually about the way we spend our hour and 45 minutes before bedtime. We make messes. I run my eyes over all of it. I’m tired. I don’t feel like cleaning. I sigh.
And then I spot a picture on the mantle above the fireplace. Me, in a hospital bed, in a hospital gown, holding a precious newborn bundle in my arms. My dad, leaning over me, kissing my head. Kissing his baby. His grown up, having-her-own-baby baby.
I straighten up the living room with a sad smile. Yesterday, she was born. Today, she’s a toddler. Tomorrow, she’ll be grown and gone.
Misty Eyed Mama