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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another Woman in my House

We've had a sick kid week this week.

Monday all three were home sick.
Tuesday all three went to school
(and I did laundry)
Wednesday Kate and Trey were home sick.
Today I am just down to one still home.
And she is feeling much better,
so I am hopeful for a kid-free Friday
before the weekend.

The oddest thing happened last night though.

It was somewhere around 1:30 in the morning.
I was still up and reading
but in a mostly-asleep, Benadryl-induced kind of fog
when our door opened.

(quick off topic- our paint sticks and the door makes a very loud popping sound when it is opened. Anyone know how to fix this?)

Kate wanders in,
bleary eyed with sleep
hair askew,
face scrunched up in discomfort.

"My stomach hurts..." she complained.

I got up to walk her back to her room,
my hand on her shoulder to guide her,
when I was startled to realize that I think she is
now officially taller than me.

This has been coming for a while but still,
it was kind of jarring.

We get to her room
and she lays down on her bed
and I lay down next to her.

In the partial darkness
I lay with her
stroking her hair
and trying to guide her back into sleep.

The act of stroking her hair
sends me reeling through a flashback
of memories,
from photographs
and from the heart.
of the little baby she once was.

The week old newborn who would turn her head
to the sound of my voice
and root against my cheek
her head bobbing and lips smacking.

The little blond, brown eyed toddler
who would follow me everywhere,
"baby blankie" in tow,
singing Barney songs.

Sitting on the screen porch
of our old house with Rob beside me,
our eyes welling up with tears
as she read "The Giving Tree" to us.
The book's meaning lost on her
but deeply affecting her parents.

The fifth grader getting ready to start
middle school and I was as terrified
as I have ever been as she went on to this
new part of her life.
I was so worried that her kindness
would make her a target.

And now, as sixth grade comes to a close,
I look at this woman-child beside me.
I stroke her hair and try to connect these mental images
with the one before me.

Caught between childhood and adulthood,
her features are in that awkward phase-
the nose growing and widening,
the teeth about ready for braces,
the tiny bumps on the forehead...

and I wonder about the changes yet to come.

What will she look like, when she emerges from
the chrysalis into her adult self?
How will she navigate the waters of adolescence,
the choices, the pressures, the unspoken rules?

Only six more years until she is off to college.

I pray we are doing enough now,
that we are feeding her soul,
her conscience,
so that she will be ready to fly.

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