With my needed-to-be-refilled coffee mug in hand, I got up from the couch to get my second dose of caffeine for the day.
Five steps into the kitchen, I heard the familiar sound of tiny toddler toes filling the same space on the floor that mine just had. When I got to the coffee maker, I turned to find my daughter’s arms in the air directly below me in anticipation of being lifted to her spot on the counter.
Our favorite time of the morning, we went through the routine steps to co-create a fresh cup of brew: switching the old cup for a new one, pressing the start button, opening the sugar by herself before spooning some into the cup and swirling it around “like a tornado.” After taking the tasting sip, she giggled knowing she was about to be picked up into the mid-air merry-go-round for our daily celebration of the “best cup of coffee ever.”
That little one. She’s at the stage when she wants to be part of everything I do and doesn’t want me to be out of her sight without knowing where I am. If I get up from the couch, it’s a guaranteed ask, “Mommy where you going?” My response is usually an unexciting bathroom trip or a walk to the refrigerator for more water. Either way, she’s right behind me.
Because while she’s the first one to greet her dad with an excited, screaming welcome when he walks in the door, she just loves her mama right now. We have a unique bond.
At night, she only wants me, her mother’s love, her blanket, and a rocking chair. She knows exactly which nook in my arm she wants to lay her head, and her feeling of safety fills the air every night when she lets out that breath that tells me she’s found her safe spot.
She’s a mama’s girl.
When I pull out the cutting boards to prepare the dinner ingredients, it’s a guarantee that I’ll hear the sound of a step stool sliding across the floor and stopping below the countertop next to me. “I want to help,” she’ll say before she proudly hands me whatever vegetable I need.
She’s a mama’s girl.
When she trips over her too-big-for-her princess dress and hurts her elbow on the floor, no matter what adult is closest to her, she’ll make the journey to wherever I am to find her comfort.
She’s a mama’s girl.
And candidly, there are days when her constant need for me is exhausting.
I wish she’d let someone else help her, or give me just a minute to spend some time in my own space. I have learned I simply cannot soak in every single moment of her littleness all the time; I need a moment to soak in the quiet in my own mind every once in a while.
The other day, she raided my closet for her favorite pair of red heels that I own. She brought them to the kitchen and giggled as she shuffled and stumbled around. “Hey, Mommy!” she called out. “Look at me . . . I’m just like you!”
At that moment when those sweet little words formed in her sweet little voice, I was reminded that one day, she is going to grow up and be able to fill out those shoes. She’ll put herself to bed without even saying goodnight.
She won’t notice (or care) when I leave the room.
She’ll choose to lean on a friend’s shoulder instead of mine when she’s hurting.
She’ll talk on the phone to her friend in the other room, while I cook in the kitchen and yearn for the sound of that step stool.
While I know she might not always choose her mama, I do want her to know that she can when she needs to.
That I will lie in bed with her and wipe her tears when she’s having a fight with her friends at school.
That she will say yes when I ask if anyone wants to join me when I’m leaving the house to run an errand.
That I will be there for her when she seeks my comfort when her first love breaks her heart.
That she knows she can join me in the kitchen for a chat over a cutting board . . . even when she doesn’t need a step stool anymore.
So for now, while there are days I crave my me time . . . I’ll choose to pick her up, I’ll choose to hold her hand, and I’ll choose to snuggle her in my arms.
So when she’s no longer my baby, she’ll always know she’s her mama’s girl.