Today she sat on my lap, careful not to lean back on "mommy's tummy" while we watched a program. It was actually one of my programs - a kitchen show. And she didn't mind watching it with me because it meant being with me. That's why I love this kid. She's taken to enjoying whatever I do, joining me in my world. Over the past three years we've created so many rituals, depending on the season of our life. Coffee and the train table at Barnes N Noble. Rifling through the trinket shelves at the thrift store. Dollar popcorn and pop at Target - long, lingering hugs around my big tummy from her seat in the shopping cart while we peruse the aisles. She gets a "pink" (soy raspberry italian soda) when I get my mocha at the coffee shop. She twirls my hair when she sneaks into bed on Saturday mornings. And now she's even able to watch me sew and create, careful not to step on my work and waiting patiently for the fabric scraps so she can adorn me with them. Everyone tells me I have the best kid, because she's incredibly capable (almost too capable, these days), a great all-day window-shopper, obedient, and self-directed. She's skilled, and chatty, witty, and loving and super duper imaginative (mine is the kid who actually does talk to the wall). The deployment was a struggle, but in many ways it was a blessing. We had an incredible bonding period, and I found a lot of strength as a mom that I didn't know I had. I shed the labels I had taken on - Impatient, Bossy, Loud, Not Nurturing - and realized that I could be an amazing mom. I failed her many times during the deployment. And then asked God for forgiveness and continued to be a great mom. Which I didn't really, truly realize I could be until I was an only parent for a year.
And now another little one is about to join us. And I don't know what to think. The two of us are about to be the three of us (I'm speaking in stay-at-home mom terms, of course - she's also very much a Daddy's Girl). For three years I have spent my work days as "Me and E," Mommy and Super-Tot. I know my heart will grow to make room for the two of them and I will love them equally and differently. But as the days to #2 creep closer, I am feeling so many things, and one of them is the loss you feel as you enter a new chapter in life. Everyone talks about the excitement of the next stage - be it college or marriage or a new baby. I get that. But I've always been one who needs to pause to let go of the existing chapter in order to embrace the next biggest, best season of my life.
So here it is. A big, grateful, bittersweet sigh as I pause to remember our days as the Two of Us and a somewhat giddy smile as I await being the Three of Us.
ps. the above slide show will eventually stop and ask you for your email. just ignore it.