She peeked her head around the corner of the stairwell to find me. Glasses off she looks so different. Her eyes find my frantic bending and raising of a body as I pick up the tornado of the day. I whip up with a pile of trash, toys, and a loan shoe and see her shyly smile.
“Do you need some snuggles, mama?”
Oh my heart. No. I need wine. And more ice cream. Possibly a personal assistant. And most likely an entire new house that I can start over with organizing all the nooks and crannies and junk drawers and closed closets. So much stuff that never has a real home because I’m in a constant stage of binging and purging with the stuff in our home.
But, I told her no. I gave her a tender hug where I cup her head and hold it against my cheek a second longer. I tell her I’m cleaning. I’m always cleaning. I tell her with a smile as if to make it ok.
Her eyes quicken with sadness for a moment, but she recovers. She was probably expecting this answer. Unfortunately.
She starts to walk up the stairs, but turns to tell me to wait. She has something for me.
A minute later, she returns with her doll dressed in matching pajamas to what she has on. She tells me that I can snuggle it tonight. I smile and wish her off to bed so I can be by myself. In the quiet. To clean up the chaos – but never to my full likening. It’s never clean enough. Or finished enough. Or organized enough.
I drop the doll on her back on the cold dining room table and hustle off to the four loads of clean laundry that need folded and put away. Mentally, I’m going back and forth between all the house projects I want to do so that I can feel at peace when I’m home. Maybe if we converted the attic into our homeschool room, our days would go better. Maybe if we got rid of the TV and the devices, my heart would feel good about my parenting. Always folding frantically just to get everything maintained enough to function the next day.
And I look over at the dining room table.
A new friend has joined my borrowed doll in the matching pajamas. Her teddy bear is laying next to it. I see it’s leg peeking up around the belly of the doll from the floor of the kitchen. She snuck down again tonight. Didn’t bother to ask me for a snuggle this time – knowing already what my answer would likely be. So she laid the teddy next to the doll I thoughtlessly set on the table.
Another gift for mama.
I wonder how long she looked at me folding clothes. Did she look with sadness or longing or anger?
At night, when everything is quiet, it all falls into perspective. This life is GOOD. But this life goes FAST. Soon enough, that girl who gifts me animals and dolls to snuggle in my own bed because I say no to nestling up next to her – she will be grown. Gone. These dolls will be all that remain. With faint scents of that little girl.
So I type these words to remember. And I head up those stairs to find a sleeping girl tucked away in her bed. And I crawl in and get real close. I whisper how sorry I am and beg myself to remember tomorrow that stopping to be with her is the most important task I have on hand.