I walk up to her in the midst of her playing and say, “Katie babe, it’s time for sleeping”. I expect the wailing and it comes quickly. I’m not sure she hears me as I tell her we can read a story first. Instead she over powers me with her voice, hollering, “but I want to play with my bruders!!”
I grab her up into my arms and pat her back as I carry her stiff and wrangling body to her room down the hall. One little wet tear lands on my shoulder, I can feel it through my shirt.
She’s still crying as I put her on the bed and she tries to climb down. I stop her and she continues to cry so loud. She is clearly tired. I have made my request for her to sleep a little too late this day. But she still needs to nap.
After just a bit she gives in and lays down on her tummy and turns her head to face me. Her crying ends as her blonde tresses settle into the familiar collection of blankets and stuffies. That last snotty sigh comes from her lungs and she starts to play with her hair like she always has, since she was a baby.
In the next moment she asks me to lay with her. She always does. I find my sliver of space on her twin bed that used to be mine, and I lay down next to her on my side. I tuck her hair behind her ear, just as I do every time. Then I close my eyes and feel how nice it is to lay down in the middle of the day. I know that I could sleep there with her but there are so many things to do and boys who also need my attention.
But right then, in that moment I am with her and the sweet smell of her is so familiar. I try not to think about how fast she is growing and how quickly time is passing and instead, I think about how much her little girl kisses and hugs and smiles mean to me.
Her breath gets deeper and I feel her relaxing next to me. Her hand falls from her hair and her eyes are closed as she drifts off into dreamland.
And I lay there still, taking a few extra moments with her now, when she is still small and still wants me with her… always…