I hold my oldest on my lap first thing in the morning. She is long and skinny, yet somehow she still fits in my arms. She lets me hold her because she knows it means a lot to me, yet I know she would rather run around the house and play. I tickle her and attack her with a thousand morning kisses while she giggles and screams “Stop it mom! Your breath stinks!” I just want to have some time together. She really just wants to get away from me and hand me a toothbrush.
As she squirms in my arms, I see her face. Really see it. I look into the eyes of a girl that shed the words “little” without me noticing. This little girl is not so little anymore. The realization makes me nostalgic.
Suddenly I am thinking of water – running water – a steady stream pouring out. So fluid. I am trying my best to keep it cupped between my hands, yet I can feel it running, slipping, streaming through my fingers. My little girl is growing up with each drop of time.
We celebrated her firsts, and now I am reaching, cupping, scooping as much of her as I can before she runs freely with those lasts. And what if I don’t catch them? What if they slide through the tiny holes in the folds of my skin and I miss them altogether?
So I stop the tickles and the kisses and hold her as close as I can. I breath her in and feel how small she still is. I know she wants out of my arms, I know morning breath is a turn off.
I let her go but the picture remains: the fluid water. I don’t want to miss it, not one single drop. These years I have with her are too precious to allow them to flow by without taking the time to splash in the water, to jump in, and to enjoy.
As I get up from the couch and walk toward the kitchen to get my morning cup of coffee, I feel little arms wrap around my waist. Ellie has come back for one more hug. I hug her back, thankful that she still has time for her mama.
“Hope you like coffee breath better.” I tease.
Ellie squeals and runs away from me, “Noooo!”
I smile. Maybe in a few minutes I will tackle her and let her choose what she likes best. I will be playful, present, and attentive today. I will make every drop count.