She follows me around the kitchen, a 10x5 rectangle.
Fridge to counter, two steps to the sink and then three more to the stove.
Nestling her head between the backs of my legs, her soft hair hitting just above my knees
We do the kitchen shuffle.
In between the washing, the putting away, preparations for the next meal,
I reach down and gently press her head closer to my leg and say "I love you baby girl."
"Hold you, hold you" she asks over and over again.
"Just a minute baby, let me finish the dishes."
When drainers are empty, hands are dry, and I can do a few tasks one-handed
I lift her to my left hip. The curve of my waist, hugged by little legs, as it has been for the past seven years.
A chubby hand pats my arm and squeezes gently.
Her head nestles underneath my jaw, laying on the shoulder that has burped three babies and handled more spit-up, drool, sometimes vomit and baby boogers than is calculate-able.
My one-handed tasks complete, I lower her to the ground once again, amidst protests.
I kneel to the ground to pick up stray crumbs. Her desire to be close, compels her to get on all four's as well, head touching mine. Ever near.
We return to the kitchen shuffle, more tasks to complete.
This mother-child dance.
I cherish each moment. Savor them. Taste them.
The days, the months are short.
The older sisters, their worlds don't revolve so closely around me anymore.
I've done this before. My heart knows, she's not far behind.
Yet still, when she wakes in the morning, I'm the first one she wants to see.
Heavy toddler feet clod in my direction, pink sleepy flushed cheeks, Wubbie always in hand.
With each move in our kitchen shuffle, my heart breaks a bit. For I am aware of the coming transition.
Before an empty nest, comes an empty hip.
The day approaches all too quickly
When I must redefine my motherhood.
No longer, a baby's mama.
A sense of freedom coming, yes. Potential for new life patterns.
But for now, it's still a pending emptiness.
I love this job, this life as a baby's mama. Although I know I will love these next stages too.
Three babies. I was their mama.
Always my babies. Always their mama.
My arms may tire, completion of tasks may slow.
But I welcome these moments, these kitchen shuffles, the ever near.
Being my baby's mama.