Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bedtime for Princess

From my perch at the kitchen table, I hear the familiar padding of soft feet coming toward me.  There she stands almost instantly, in her white gown with pink roses (she likes to say it has roses "all ovah").  She says something garbled, I ask her to remove her binky.  "Come wiff me, mommy!  Tuck me into bed!" she spouts.  Turning to walk toward her room, she stretches her little hand out to me, waving me on.  "C'mon, mommy!  Fowwow me!"

And how could I not follow her?  I get up, legs creaking from the day, and give her my hand.  She lets go, bopping along in front of me, light golden brown curls bouncing as they cascade down her back.

How could a child be more beautiful?

She climbs into her bed, taking her place among the stuffies.  We arrange them until they're just right in her crib turned to a tiny daybed.  Her soft friends safely into place, she lays her head back on her lavender and pink sparkly butterfly pillow, and I cover her with the quilt of old receiving blankets I made.  She says it's her favorite.  Little does she know that each square is stitched with love for her, and with an incredible amount of desire to remember her this way.  The truth is I couldn't let go of the tiny pink and purple blankets.  We went through so much together in her babyhood.

"Mommy pray wiff me?"

Oh, those words!  They pierce even my hardest of hearts.  My crankiest of moods.  We pray, thanking God for everything He has so freely given, asking forgiveness for the ways we've failed, and of course blessing her sleep.  She is so much.  She is the little girl I wanted.  She is the last baby, lest lightning should strike.  I want to pour so much into her, but all I can do is kiss her forehead and remind her who she is.

I want to keep her from hurting.

I want to make sure people are only good to her, and she to them.

I want to keep her from noticing the stares as we deal with brother's meltdowns in public.

I want to prevent her from making so many mistakes I made.

But this is her life.  This is the life God has laid out for her.  He knows her better than I, and that is so hard to remember.  And there are things that she can only learn the way He knows her heart will learn them.

So I promise in my heart that I will do my best to teach her, and I pray that she will rest in Him.  I wake up tomorrow and seek to be a better mother, not just for her, but for the boys.  For their future spouses.  For my grandkids.

As I get up to walk away, she wants hugs and kisses again.  Leaning over, I oblige.  Then she tells me the same thing she does her brothers after kisses... "Say achoo."  No idea where this ritual got its origin, but we don't say good night without it.

You know what?  Even Ryan says "achoo" when she asks.  He's even started looking at her, saying "Hey, Mae-mae."  My heart melts every time.

I rise and turn out the light, taking one last second to admire her, curls falling over her pillow, long eyelashes brushing her pink cheeks, binky nodding as she nuzzles it, and I just can't help but pray that this photograph will be etched in my memory.  Someday she'll be going to school, then to her first summer band camp, then graduation, then college... and I'll want to remember.

She's a compelling girl.  God has big things in line for her, I'm sure of it.  And I am so grateful to have a front-row seat to watch them unfold.

Thanks be to God for the chance to love, shepherd, and savor these three angels.  And, of course, that I got to have that little girl.  Two boys and a girl in my house is proof that He knows the desires of our hearts.

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