Waiting for her birthday party guests to arrive.
Lying on my daughter's bed just now, four years to the minute after she entered this world. I hold her against my body, her tiny spine nestled perfectly into my stomach. Her silky curls tickle my nose, smelling of sweet hay or flowers and just a hint of the chocolate cupcakes she took to her class today. I close my eyes and concentrate on our inhales and exhales; a symphony of contented breathing.
I hold her tightly and remember the day she came into my life. All red-faced, defiant cries, waving walnut-sized fists.
More contented breathing.
The minutes pass peacefully whether in silence or filled with her chatter of classmates and lobsters in the sand and birthday party reminiscences.
I open my eyes and study the delicately upturned nose. The full, pink lips punctuating her porcelain complexion and try to reconcile this grown-up kid with the baby forever in my heart. I close my eyes to the child of today in an effort to summon a mental snapshot from each year of her life. Click. She's born. Click click. She's walking. Click click click. She's off to pre-school.
Each evening after I read her a story, tuck her in and linger in the doorway she insists on blowing and catching several kisses before uttering the phrase we exchange every, single night without fail.
"See you later, alligator!"
"After a while, crocodile."
The expression of joyful contentment that spreads across her face when I issue my response replicates itself night after night, never waning. It's so easy to please her. It's just as easy to enrage her or make her sad... Such is life with a 4-year-old.
I stand on the sidelines as she blossoms into a smart, quirky, cool customer and I marvel at how uniquely complex, how wonderfully hilarious she is. If, before her birth, you had asked me to describe the ideal daughter I might have responded with some uninteresting grouping of adjectives; "loving, kind, smart, funny..."
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to describe the amazing little girl I have the pleasure of calling daughter.