Morella’s a pretty light sleeper. It’s hard to creep past her without waking her up, no matter how quiet you’re trying to be. Living in the Creakiest, Crackliest House On The Planet does not help, but hey, that’s what white noise machines are for.
This morning I watched her begin to wake up: tossing her groggy little face back and forth on the pillow a few times, wiggling her butt, and finally sitting up and brushing her curls out of her face. She saw me, and said “I love you Mommy!” and I died a little bit. It was particularly heartwarming because most mornings the first thing out of her mouth is an entreaty for a snack or a demand to watch Blue’s Clues.
I said “I love you too, baby” and went and put my arms around her. She hugged me tightly, then said “And a kiss” and did her version of puckering up, which is actually just pursing her lips tightly. “Mmmmwah.” What a sweet morning.
Then she promptly threw consecutive fits about wanting to watch Blue’s Clues in a different room, her socks not having enough pink on them, and not wanting to share the flower she picked with the other kids at school.
I understand what people mean when they say “having kids keeps you young,” now. I don’t just watch her discover the world for the first time and enjoy the fact that she’s enjoying it. I experience it with her. All things have been made new. Wonder edges out assumptions and jadedness. At every step, it’s also an opportunity to question why I assume certain things, or why I do things the way I do them. Is there a good reason other than inertia? And then you adjust life accordingly.
Living with a toddler is watching someone go through the most intense emotions at all times, flipping between manic episodes of joy and despair, and trying to join in when it’s joy and just be a calm, reassuring presence when it’s despair. I’m drinking in this phase, though. This time of vivid color. This time of complete honesty, where she has not yet learned to censor herself or to mask her emotions for fear of inconveniencing others. She loves entirely and hates entirely, and throws herself with gusto into everything. There’s no artifice. She is fully herself. I pray she loses as little of that as possible.