Pulling Away to Keep My Firstborn Close

Mine

If you ask her who I am, she points to herself and states, “Mine.” Continuing on with her important business without so much as a glance to see who spoke. No hesitation, as if the answer is obvious and the inquirer stupid.

Why yes, sweet girl. I am yours and you are mine and we belong to each other.

And in the soft yellow glow of the pink cow lamp, sitting on the green rug of the nursery floor while you read me Frog and Toad, I can’t imagine a life any different than what we have.

I need you and you need me and that is all that matters.

In need of comfort or laughter or a playmate, we seek each other. Your tiny hand wrapped around my pinky finger, reminding me so much of the first day we met face-to-face only two years ago.

We are each other’s favorites.

But, I know that you’ll someday think that you don’t need me. For a few years, you’ll turn away.  Someday, you’ll say you hate me. I know. And my heart will break.

But, until then, I am yours and you are mine. Gray-21

And for as long as you let me, I’ll call you my baby bird, and I’ll wear your princess shoes while you fix my hair.

I’ll push the cart down the aisle as fast as I can go just to hear you laugh. And I’ll ride the carousel a thousand times.

We’ll eat oatmeal and cookies for dinner on the couch on nights that we’re alone.

I’ll ride in your little red wagon even though I’m far too big. And I’ll drink your pretend tea from the pink plastic cups.

We’ll tear out all of the stilettos from my closet and the hall will be our runway and Mimmie and George and Yodel will be our audience.

I’ll make you glitter tutus and share my lip balm.

We’ll shuffle and switch to giant steps down the sidewalks. And sit on the curb to count the ants as they march to their little hill of a home.

We’ll growl and sing and act out your books, not caring who sees or hears (you have the best growl, you know).

On the day you break my heart, I’ll have these days.

And as we both grow older, you’ll know this: I need you and you need me. 

For I am yours and you are mine and we belong to each other.

I wrote this in November of 2013. At 10:00 at night. After the lights were out and my daughter and husband were asleep. I was feeling especially thankful that night for my sweet newly-turned two-year-old. Completely enamored with the life that we had made as a family of three, I didn’t foresee anything about our mother/daughter relationship changing.

samantha and kate are photographed in downtown indianapolis for a photography session in Indianapolis, Indiana on Monday, April 6, 2015. Photo by Ashlee Lauren Photo.

For two additional years after this, she was mine and I was hers. We belonged to each other. Our relationship was special and our bond unspoiled by any other littles vying for my motherly affections.

And then, shortly after my golden-haired girl turned four, I gave birth to our second Gray girl and everything changed. Overnight, she had to grow up a little faster. At 5:20 p.m. on a warm December day, my first little love had to learn to share me with someone who needed me just as much. She handled it so very well for such a small child who had been an only child for four years. Oh, how she loves that baby. Four months in and she’s still as enamored with her as she was on day one.

But I can see the disappointment in her eyes when I can’t take her on a walk because it’s too cold outside for the baby. I see her slim little shoulders droop over in sadness when I tell her that I can’t hold her at that exact moment because I’m nursing the baby.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that at 4, my big girl is still really just a babe herself (despite her protests), and she still needs for me to be just hers sometimes.

So, now with two littles that need me, I’m relearning to take time for just the two of us. No baby. No daddy. No dog. No work. Just me and her and a whole big world to explore.

samantha and kate are photographed in downtown indianapolis for a photography session in Indianapolis, Indiana on Monday, April 6, 2015. Photo by Ashlee Lauren Photo.

Little shopping trips. Ice cream on The Square. A walk to see her horses. Yoga in the family room. Flying kites in the front yard. Holding her tight in my lap in the rocking chair. Dance parties and story books to read.

I’m trying to learn to take a deep, deep breath and let the rest of the world fall away for an hour every day. Some days, between all the other stuff of life, it’s difficult to find the time to pull away. So, I come back to this poem and it reminds me of that time when it was just me and her and the soft yellow glow of that pink cow lamp. And how thankful I was for our bond.

So I take that hour for just the two of us to laugh and love and learn.

Because she is mine and I am hers and we belong to each other.

 

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