“Have fun at school today.”
“OK, mama, have fun with yourself.”
“OK, honey – WHAT?!”
That was two years ago that I had that exchange with Nora. From early on her literal interpretations of common phrases and sayings has had me in fits, elicited serious misgivings, and inspired epiphanies about the English language. It’s hard to believe that she’s six now.
The baby cheeks are gone along with the plump fingers of toddlerhood. Replaced with the confident fine motor skills of childhood that allow her to dress herself so easily, draw tiny details on her rocket ships, sign her name, and cruise on her scooter. The remaining reminders of her infancy are gone but I still can see that baby face if only in my mind.
She asserts her independence in unexpected ways that makes me wistful for the days of her toddlerhood at moments but thankful that she’s speaking her mind. It’s the bittersweet pulling away that started the moment she was born and won’t stop tugging at my heart until it stops beating. The happiness of seeing her grow yet feeling left behind.
“Mama, I can do it myself.”
“No thanks, mama, I’m good.”
“I don’t need tucking in, mama. I’ll sleep good, I promise. No worrying.”
The worries. How hard we work on those for us both. Even after I promised her a birthday party she worried that her friends would forget so she made her own invitations. We repeat the mantra about worries, “Face it, look at it, and tell it go away!” How much I wish they would and how desperately I try to protect her she’ll never know and shouldn’t.
I think back to when she was two and said “froggy” instead of foggy, when she was three and said Christmas as “kiss-muss”, or when she would ask for “kiss-kiss” whenever she left the house without me and needed me to play peek-a-boo as she watched out the window until I was out of sight. How she couldn’t ride in her car seat without my arm wrenched behind me as I drove so my hand was against her cheek and she would hang on my fingers. How she climbed into bed and melded against my body until my belly was full of her brother and too large for her to nestle her back against the curve of me. How she snuck into bed to sleep next to him when we brought him home from the hospital. How she caressed his head while he slept after finally coaxing him to nurse and sleep.
Of all the therapies and strategies we use to help Owen, our best therapy is Nora. She loves him without restraint and is more patient with him than myself at times. She helps translate his speech to others and makes sure to include him. Of all the people at her birthday party, she chose to sit next to him.
The last seven years have been hard work, the last three have been just plain hard, and I look forward to all the years ahead of seeing her grow whether it’s difficult or not. She makes me so proud and happy to be a mom and so very thankful I got to bring her into this world to raise.