She calls them "print-zells" not pretzels.

For our mamas...
 

She calls them “print-zells” not pretzels.

She carries her baby doll in the crook of her elbow and pedals her around in the cozy coupe - off for ice cream or groceries or on a “special errand.”  She tells me: “See you in a little bit.  Bye - byyyyyy-e. Wasn’t that fun, huh?” And squeezes the baby’s shoulder, kissing her brunette-head.

She splashes in the water, puddles on the bathroom floor, soap up to her armpits, towels scattered like dandelion fluff into the hallway.

She helps me with chores, cleaning with absconded diaper wipes and balled up toilet paper.


She, in the morning, mimics my exact speech: “Bye-bye, Daddy.  Have a good day.  LOVE YOU!”  She digs into her cheerios and then scoops some granola from my bowl, too.

She grabs fallen spoons, puffs, cracker crumbs from the kitchen floor. “Here-ya-go, Allie.  It’s ok!”
 

She wants a snack and helps herself.  She starts the coffee pot, the microwave, the dishwasher.  She makes macaroni and cheese from memory.  She wants a drink and pours the milk into a cup, scrambling on the countertops to reach her favorite.

She calls me her “best friend” and asks me to “hold you” and wants to pretend she’s still the baby baby.


She asks to eat lunch in “Ok-ah-lahoma.”  And likes to say the blessing if she can “repeat after mommy today.”

She says asparagus is yummy and cheers for broccoli - but will only eat it if we cheer for her.


She loves to sing.  And is all “ ‘member dat one?”, “this one is my faaaaavorite song,” “mommy? can you sing dat?”, “mommy, I’m dancing to your song!” She makes us sing the broccoli song, the green pea song, the squashy song, the chicken/meat/hot dog song.

She brushes her own teeth, slips on her own clothes, puts on her own shoes.  She tells me, “mommy, you no dry my hair today” and “I don’t want a ponytail.”

She watches for bugs and “gets flies” and wants to make sure that “mommy and daddy po-teck me from dat skeeto.”  She doesn’t mind spiders or ants or bees.  She studies them like a scholar, scrunched over, nose inches from the floor, hands tucked into her lap, blue eyes curious.


She giggles just like my sister and pushes her hair out of her eyes with a backward swipe of her hand - she gets comments wherever she goes on her beauty and her curls.  But she cares about feelings.

She loves.

She challenges.

She prepares (me).

She baffles.  And amazes.  And grows.

She dances against the grain, her own way satisfying, the crowd doesn’t tempt.

She calls them “print-zells” not pretzels.

I’m storing these things up in my heart because I know she won’t be this little, this way, always. 

She’ll grow more into herself and grow up and (even though I hope against hope against hope that we’ll always be close) maybe she’ll think she doesn’t need me in the same ways - and maybe she’ll choose a college half-a-country away or marry a Navy man and move far away from the family.

And maybe it’ll turn out that we’re so different or so similar that she’ll think I could never understand her perfectly, love her enough just as she is.  Maybe - even without intending to - we'll hurt each other's feelings and say the wrong things. 

Maybe she’ll have a daughter one day.  Maybe two. 

And maybe it’ll all make sense to her then.  Maybe she’ll be able to grasp just a tiny bit of the height and the breadth and the depth of how precious she’ll forever be to me. 

Because my soul yearned for her.  My body bore her, sustained her.  My heart cherished her.  My life is given to her.  And I’d do it all over and over and over again just to have her here.

On the other side of motherhood, I understand now.

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