On the occasion of my youngest and last child's sixth birthday -
I got up without complaint when she woke up at 7am, wished her a happy birthday with a squeeze and too many kisses, told her how much I loved her, and then made the banana pancakes she'd requested, though her brother wanted blueberry. We were mysteriously out of syrup, so I offered the kids some delicious local honey, and no one was the wiser. Everyone left the table happy.
Jonah and I gave Evie her presents. I knew they would be lost in the bustle if she opened them during her party the day before, and so I'd pulled them aside. This year I'd searched harder than I'd anticipated to find her special requests: tap shoes and a whistle. But, find them I did, and she was delighted.
I realized that, at age 6, she has now entered a new phase. She is on the older side of being a little kid. She and her brother are now both in this category, though he will leave it soon when he turns 10. This overwhelmed me, just a bit. I told her how much I loved her, and that I was so proud and happy to be her Mama.
I chatted with her while she played with two naked barbies and a spoon in the bath tub. While doing so, I pulled six white hairs out of my scalp, hunting them down and meticulously separating them from the brown hairs, then plucking them out, one by one, until finally giving up and moving to my eyebrows.
I blew her hair dry. This is one of my favorite, rare moments, in which she is nestled against me, relaxed and still through the warm hum of the hair dryer. After I was finished, I clipped in the silly green feather extensions she insisted on wearing.
I tied her silk dress - "tighter. TIGHTER!" until it was perfect. I tied her new tap shoes tight enough on the second try. I said, "I love you, you crazy little munchkin. Kiss me!"
We went for a walk, tap tap tapping down the sidewalk, and stopped in to the toy store down the street, where she played for twenty minutes and then came when I said it was time to go, never asking for a single thing. We all held hands on the walk home, and I said to my kids "you guys are the best." And I asked them "how in the heck did I get so lucky with you two?"
When her dad came to pick up her and her brother for the third round of birthday and presents, I squeezed her some more, snuck a few more kisses onto her cheeks, told her I loved her and to have a great rest of her birthday, and then off she went. I closed the door and the silence was deafening, as usual.
I walked around for a few minutes, adjusting, pulling down bits of orange crepe paper. Then I lay on the couch, playing solitaire on my phone, reading, then finally dozing like a cat, inching along with the movement of the sun. I allowed myself just a few minutes of my annual melancholic reflection on babies and childhood and family with all of its revolving definitions. Then I thought about then and now and what is to come and what we will never know.
Finally I got up, stretched, showered, made myself the last possible quesadilla in the house, and went out to play some kickball with friends.