It's my very favorite way to start the day. Not with coffee or a brisk run, not with a long, hot shower (though I hear those are lovely), but with my baby's smile.
As I crack open her door I spy her in her crib, facing away from me. She stiffens as she hears the noise and cranes her neck to investigate.
|"Who's that? It's MOMMY!!!!!"|
And she smiles. It may start with her lips, but it quickly spreads across her joyful face, her eyes twinkling, and radiates all the way down to her curly, kicking toes. It’s my MOMMY! her smile shouts.
It is love, as only a baby can express: a gummy mouth open wide and tiny hands flailing in excitement.
These, I think, are special smiles that babies reserve just for their mothers. Daddies are strong and scratchy and silly, but Mommy. Mommy is the soft, warm haven that gently guides her to sleep. Mommy is the constant companion whose hip provides the perfect perch. Mommy is the steadfast beacon for which she searches when the unfamiliar creeps a little too close.
So, Sweet Girl, this Mommy is relishing your joy-filled smiles. I'm collecting them and holding them close because every new day pushes you closer to childhood and further away from this precious little bundle of affection wrapped around my hip.
I know that one day soon your smile will turn to a frown as I tell you "No!"
I will pull you back as you try to toddle off by yourself. You will scream and fuss when I brush your hair or, heaven forbid, make you eat a vegetable or put on shoes. And I will take a deep breath and remember these smiles.
I will hold tight to these happy smiles when, one day, you storm off as I tell you that you're not allowed to watch that movie, or wear that skirt or go out with that boy.
I will cling to these smiles when our relationship becomes a constant push and pull of wills, you attempting to to exert your independence and me still trying to shelter and guide, because you will always be My Baby.
You see, I was only meant to be your haven, your companion, your beacon for a short while. I am a place holder, really, standing in the gap, meant to point you to the One who gave you to me.
These smiles will be the tokens I keep as I learn to let go.