In the little moments, I need to remember she's not trying to break my heart.
Her sweetness emanates from her in a way unmatched by other children...
She's never known me as a physical force like her sister has; as she grows she won't recall how I used to change furniture around because I was bored with the look of the room. She hasn't done those quick trips to the hardware store in search of the perfect paint color to change up the walls. I used to do that. Often.
She'll never remember that I was able to easily push her for what seemed like forever on the swing, her wispy curls blowing in the breeze as she called out, "MORE, Mama, MORE!" in that baby voice I can still hear in memories...lost to her will be the pictures in her head of me following her up the steps of a slide like I did with her big sis.
Her recollections won't include me running after her as she took those baby steps from tentative to full speed. She doesn't recall back that far and it hurts in a place that no bandage will ever heal.
Today, the weather was perfect. Sixty-three degrees with sunshine touching our hair and warming our backs. The day called us to come outside and enjoy this respite from winter gray. She asked, hopefully this morn, if we might go outside and play once we finished our schooling. I replied in the affirmative and said a quick prayer that her sister would school quickly, for the Grace Girl is now the source of outside joys. With a Mama who doesn't always move well and has to be careful with sunlight, my eldest has taken over the dream keeping, games of tag and sidewalk chalk and all of the festivities that I used to enjoy with her.
One more crack in my heart. A girl sometimes asked to do things she need not because a disease limits my ability.
My big did not finish early. In fact, we schooled down to the wire and then did a quick twenty minutes of choreography revamping for an upcoming solo before heading across town for hours of lessons.
On our way home, my Little Joy asked if perhaps heading outside was still in the cards...
She started it with, "Boy, Mama, it's so sunny I have to put on sunglasses...."
I knew where this was headed, and started to smirk
"Do you think, maybe, well, we could play soccer?" Then answering her own question, she continued,"Wait, you can't run. We can't play soccer.I've not been able to do that in a long time."..."How about basketball? Can you play basketball with me?" My heart cracked again as I replied, "Angel, you know my hands and wrists are bad. I'd love to play with you but I can't. Maybe I can watch you play?" "No Mama, I want to do it with you..." Disappointment filled her voice. Disappointment filled my heart.
I deal with these autoimmune diseases of mine. I don't wish for what is not part of my life. I don't lament what could be. I am thankful instead for what is. But, sometimes, what is hurts. The girls learn all sorts of things about empathy, compassion, patience, gratitude. I'm thankful for this. I love that we have more time to snuggle and read stories and learn languages. I adore that I can be a part of their dance and studio time and every competition, convention, audition and practice. I am in awe of the wonder of them and the beauty that is their growing up. I am speechless with gratitude. It could all be very different; I know this and I seize every single opportunity to be with them.
But today? Today my heart aches with the wanting to do things with her that she'll remember outside of me not being able to, if that makes sense...
Then, a quiet honey-filled voice from the backseat breaks the silence
"Mama, how about I ride my scooter? We don't have to go far, but maybe we could go past that first turn? Perhaps that will work? I don't want to hurt your hip too much, but I do want to be with you...May we do that? Please Mama...you don't have to take the dog, I know she'll pull too much...."
. . . . .
So, that was precisely what we did on this light-filled Tuesday afternoon. We secured her helmet and off we went, making long shadows on the grass and slow progress in our distance. She'd dart ahead and then wait for me to catch up. We enjoyed easy conversation on big subjects, like the fact that she never plans on leaving me, even when she grows up. "You are my favorite person," she tells me, "I love you more than anyone else in the world. Ever. Except for God.You are perfect for me." My Little Bit. The child we prayed would be extraordinary not ordinary. Our girl who's name means "God has answered"...In her I see the One who made her and I give thanks.
That fracture in my heart begins to mend itself together just a bit.
All of the "what-if's" related to my physical are left in the dust today. She sees my heart. Loves me as I am. Accepts all of it and doesn't mourn for what she's never known. As she grows, she may have to adjust her perspective on my normal. The Grace Girl has. For these hours, though, we're playing outside with the sun kissing our cheeks. Smiling. Together.
I am beyond thankful for her little heart. Mothering her is an honor. A blessing.