Last night, the night before Sophie started her first day of two-year-old preschool, I was reading a book about a woman whose only child, a daughter, was moving 3000 miles away from her to begin college.
The writer, a very good one, evoked those letting go emotions. Maybe because I only have one daughter, or maybe because she's always been more of a mama's girl than either of the boys, I felt a connection. Though I would only be leaving my baby girl at school for two hours on two mornings each week, it was still our first real time apart. Her first baby steps toward independence.
Through the harried days of summer with all three kids home, to the tiny bit less harried days of fall with the almost three-year-old and the just turned one-year-old, I find myself putting the kids off when they ask me for most anything. "Just a minute," is my stock response. While it feels as though (and most often appears as though) I get nothing accomplished during the day, I'm still in a perpetual state of being right in the middle of something.
The request issued most is from Sophie who says in the sweetest voice, "Mommy, I need to hold you,” which has evolved from the precious baby phrase, “Hold you me.” And it often is when I'm cooking, or I'm changing Bryce's diaper, or in the bathroom, or something equally consuming that prevents me from picking her up and holding her at that moment. But other times, it's just because I'm tired, or it's easier to let her walk (always) or I don't want to take the time to stop and pick her up.
This morning as I walked her into the building and I reached for her hand (I was carrying my littlest) and she said, "No, mommy, I’ll do it by myself," I felt a twinge of sadness that I don't always hold her when she asks.
It's so hard to balance the have to’s with the want to’s when it comes to taking care of our homes and our children. But this morning, as I envisioned my only daughter in the not-so-distant future, not needing me so desperately, not clinging to me and then not really wanting me at all (age 12? maybe sooner?), it made those precious, "Hold you me’s," a lot more like have to's than things I can put off till later.