I haven't been able to look at you lately without filling up with a crazy mix of love and regret. When this happens, I often have to touch your face or comb my fingers through your hair.
I am reminded how love isn't just a concept, it's tangible.
I watch as you try to straddle the worlds of growing up and staying small. You often tell me "When I get to be a woman like you" and "I'm a big girl" and "But I'm still a little girl, right?" all in the same paragraph.
When we talk about the changes that are coming our way, you seem as conflicted as I am. You want to meet your brother, hold him in your arms and help with all the things a mother's helper does. (Although, I am sure your correct title, once your brother comes home to stay, will be more "mother's advisor" than mere "helper.")
But there are changes that are making you anxious, too.
Losing your place at Lori's house is among the most frightening of them. You know it's coming, we've talked about it, but you don't understand when it will happen or what it will be like when it does.
So every day you ask questions, hoping to get your bearings:
"Am I going to Lori's today?"
"Can Lori come to my house?"
"Will I have to go to a new Lori?"
I know you're afraid of never seeing Lori again.
You've taken to "borrowing" toys from her house thinking that as long as you have something that is hers you will be obligated to bring it back.
You've been talking non-stop about her girls, and how someday you want to "run on the road" like Tierney or "go to dance classes" like Brianna.
Watching you make sense of the inadequate things I've said to prepare you is at times painful and poignant. I think about all the things I can't control. All the things that could be -- good or bad. I shake my head, hoping to shake the all the negatives away, but they always find their way back.
Last night you broke down in an emotional puddle because you couldn't give Lori one last hug. You were afraid you'd never see her again. I can only guess it's because you know that the day is coming when you won't see her nearly as often, but you don't have a concrete understanding of time. And quite frankly, I've been wondering how we're going to be able schedule times for you to "run" into each other, knowing how busy everyone gets with their other commitments.
Even for me, this time has been like a rollercoaster ride. Ups and downs; slow, steady climbs and furious plunges. Each minute of each day is ticking away quickly now as we prepare for the arrival of the one you will call your "brother." And while exciting, the scare factor is equally compelling.
It's times like these that I am reminded of all the things that won't change.
That you are always going to be babyofmine no matter how old you are, that you are always going to be someone who surprises and delights me with her stalward observations and her ability to see humor in just about everything. That you are not like me, but we are still alike. And that love -- no matter how mad or sad we are -- will hang over all of our decisions.
The thing is, none of us will disappear in this change. We just have to hope that as we change course, the winds are gentle.