Some divine force stops me from shouting, “Ella! You’re going to fall! Get down from there!” and I’m able to walk (quickly but outwardly calmly) over and say, “You’re up really high. Are you trying to climb up the stairs by yourself?” She says yes, looking a bit scared and unsure of her decision, but then climbs one step higher, holding on to the rail. I resist all maternal urges to grab her hand or shoulder and help her up as I always have (or take her back down, kicking and screaming probably) and say, “It’s a bit scary, huh? But I won’t let you fall.” She goes up another step.
“I won’t let you fall. It’s good that you’re holding on to the rail.”
She sings, “Up, up, up [the] stairs. Up stairs, Ella.” It’s a song I’ve sung to her many times before, teaching the tiny infant, and then the squirming toddler, in my arms about up and down, about taking one step at a time, about being careful. She takes another step. And then another. I am always a step below her, heart in my throat, hands ready, but hands off.
We are almost at the top, three steps to go—and then she stops. She’s never been this high before and perhaps she is only realizing that now, her toddler mind scouring its archives for the proper way to tackle this situation and finding nothing. Mommy’s always held my hand. Papa’s always carried me up. I’ve never done this on my own. Is it left foot up first? Do I hold the brown thing on the side or the white thing in front of me? Maybe I should go back down—but how?
“We’re almost there, Darling. It’s really high, huh? I won’t let you fall.”
She sits down on the step and climbs up on her hands and knees, probably feeling safer being a bit closer to the ground.
“You did it!”
She smiles and runs over to her playroom. Achievement unlocked, for both of us.
File this under "meaning to". Also filed under "but didn't".
"I don't want people to say I'm beautiful."
"Mommy, stay. Because you're the best mommy." She needed a partner in crime for the pouring. Today, she found one.
I need to do mess better.
There is freedom in being a complete beginner and in saying I have no idea what I'm doing.
Today, I let her win.
"I don't want to play with you." And there it is. Her unexpressed anger and sadness. In my head, I understand it; in my heart, it's a knife, twisted.
"Is it three weeks yet?" I'd told her that Baby Brother was coming in three weeks, three weeks ago. He was due. He was overdue.