At meet-the-teacher Friday night, she assimilated by diving into solitary activity, retreating into a corner of one of the rooms to play with baby dolls and sort wooden flatware by type and then color. I watched her from a distance so she wouldn't realize I was looking, and saw her pick a baby doll up, hold it to her shoulder, and rock back and forth, patting its back and saying, "It's ok, baby. Mama is here." Before I was a mom, I had no real experience with the feeling I had right then. How is it possible for the human body to feel both soaring pride and that huge lump of sentimental sadness at the exact same time?
The night was a success, though she did break in one of the students (the center is in the high school where Darrick teaches, so there are certified teachers as well as students who are in child development classes) by having an accident because she didn't know where the potty was.
She wore one of her new dresses that night, carefully chosen and accessorized by her with a Princess ring and a green bracelet. Over the weekend we got her a backpack, also Princess per her request. I am unsure how I ended up with a girl so infatuated with pink and Princesses and yet so firm in who she is and so independent.
She is obsessed with butter. If you leave it on the counter she will stick her fingers in it, scoop some out, and eat it by itself.
Stir, stir, stir.
Sometimes you need to stand and stir.
Blueberries and lemon zest.
Rohan decides to 'help' by eating a few.
Stirring in the berries.
Sneaking a taste.
The finished project didn't photograph as well as I wish it had, given how delicious it is! It's so good, in fact, that when Darrick got home and tried a slice, he accused me of using a boxed mix. From him, boxed mix = compliment as his mom didn't bake and so in their house growing up you hoped your mom would use a box mix rather than try to bake from scratch.
So, here it is Sunday night, and Luca's backpack is packed. Her outfit is picked out for tomorrow. She's sleeping in the tent in her room, like a big girl. And I am torn again between feeling so proud of her and confident that when she spreads her wings tomorrow the wind will carry her far, and terrified with a lump in my throat over just how far she will go. She's only three, but in many ways she holds the world in her hands, drinking it in with her curious eyes and memorizing every detail. She is forever my baby, and yet with each day she becomes more her own girl and less dependent on me. And so I find myself torn between wanting to keep her my baby and carry her in my arms, letting her warm cheek press against my neck and waking up in the morning with her curled up into my side or letting go and giving her the push of self-confidence to move forward and walk on her own feet and sleep in her own bed and be brave and bold. A balance I'm not sure I will ever perfect, but there's one promise I've always made to her and which I intend to keep: I will always love her and let her be who she is and I promise to help her grow and give her the freedom to learn and grow and fail or thrive, but I will also remain the safe place where she can curl up and cry or laugh or fall or fly.