She called my name a few times before it registered that she was crying for me. I slipped out of the room and up the stairs, pausing outside of her door for a moment, just to make sure she hadn’t miraculously fallen asleep mid-cry. She hadn’t. When I walked into the room she was sitting up in her bed. I could see the tears streaming down her face in the soft glow of the nightlight.
ME: What’s the matter, baby?
TWO (sobbing): I don’t want to move away when I’m married!
I sat down next to her and she climbed into my lap. I rocked her, smiling. Our home had been flowing with talks of weddings lately.
ME: No? You want to stay here?
TWO (wailing): I don’t want you to be alone, all by yourself! I don’t want you to be sad!
I hugged her close. Wishing I’d thought to bring my phone upstairs so I could record her sweetness. So I could replay it for her when she got older and started thinking about leaving. (Or so I could replay it for myself when she got older and started thinking about leaving.)
ME: I won’t be alone, baby. When you and your sister move away I’ll be here with Daddy.
TWO: But he’ll be at work!
(Ahhhhhh, sweet child. She still thought I didn’t do anything.)
ME: I’ll be okay. Promise. Plus I can come visit you at your new apartment.
TWO: Can we please live here with you?
I could hear my husband’s response to that in my head. NO. NOT A CHANCE. Thoughts started streaming through my mind. You won’t want to live with us, TRUST ME. You’ll want your own space. Your own home. Living with parents after you’re married, while convenient for short amounts of time, is not ideal. But she didn’t need my baggage. She was still blissfully ignorant of everything ahead of her. She needed my assurance.
ME: …sure. You can live with us.
I stalled. Promising is a big deal in our house because I generally refuse to do it. Only when I’m absolutely certain I can come through with my end of the bargain–which isn’t often–will I promise. The rest of the time I say, “We’ll see.” or “I’ll try my best.” Because my kids don’t forget. And I hate hearing their lamentations when I promised something seemingly innocent like letting them try funnel cake before the summer ended, but because of things out of my control like weather, and family needs, and vacations I can’t get them fried pancake batter. And the world ends.
Back to me NOT promising that my daughter and her TBD husband could live with us after their blissful union.
ME: I promise.
I couldn’t help it. She was so tense. And sad. And sleepy. What were the chances she’d remember in the morning? Or care? Besides, when they’re this tired you say what you need to quiet them, and get them back under the covers.
TWO (perking up): Thank you, Mama! Thank you! We can stay in my room. But I don’t know if we can both fit in my bed. It’s pretty small–
ME:I don’t think you’ll want to stay in this bedroom with your husband–
TWO: Can we have your room?
She scootched off my lap and started bouncing on the bed.
TWO: And I think I’ll need a new bedspread. Boys don’t like pink and flowers. And where will he put his clothes? My closet only fits my dresses…
I tucked her back in, kissed her, and hightailed it out of there before I could hand out more unplanned promises. Grateful that I hadn’t thought to bring my phone upstairs, so I could accidentally record my weaknesses.
TWO: I love you, Mama.
ME: I know you do, baby. And I love you. Have sweet dreams.
(But they better not be about my bedroom. Or my closets.)
©2012 CEK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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