This morning Ailyn barged into the bathroom, through the thin pillow of steam, heading straight for our walk-in closet, not caring that I was just stepping out of the shower. "Mommy, where's my white sweater?"
"Which white sweater?" I questioned, wrapping a towel around myself.
She was already going through my clothes, as if I had hidden it from her. "The fuzzy one with no sleeves. I wore it last week."
"You don't have it anymore, honey."
She called to me, "The one from the pictures on your camera?"
"You gave it to Emily, remember?"
Ailyn stopped looking around the closet, walked out and crawled onto the bed instead. Sasha got out from under the covers and laid down next to Ailyn, putting her head in Ailyn's lap, who began playing with her ears.
"That was nice of me, huh?" She sounded less upset and suddenly very pleased with herself.
"What was?" I pulled my shirt on and ran my fingers through my hair.
"It was nice to give Emily my sweater, right?"
"Yes it was." I walked into the bedroom and leaned over the bed. "That was a very generous thing for you to do, honey. I'm very proud of you." Ailyn turned her cheek so I could give her a big kiss. Sasha did the same on the other half of my daughter's face. That made her laugh a lot.
She was quiet for a moment. Sasha jumped off the bed and when I settled myself against the pillows, laying on my back, Ailyn mirrored me. I closed my eyes and after a moment I felt a small warm hand brush my cheek. She whispered into my ear, "Mommy", and tucked some hair behind my ear.
"When does Daddy come home?"
"He was here last night, but you were sleeping. He'll be here again tonight, but since he is still working on the movie, he comes home late and has to leave again early before you wake up."
Ailyn turned away from me and sighed, "I don't like the movie." She slid off the bed and grabbed the two red gummy vitamins that were waiting for her in the bathroom. Sasha followed her out of the room.
I made triple berry oatmeal with almond milk for the both of us. She likes me to put all three packets into one bowl so we can share. Adorable! But I don't know how she can stand to drink watered down orange juice from her purple sippy cup at the same time. Clash of the taste buds for sure!
I turned on Lifetime so we could watch Little House on the Prairie like we do every weekday that I'm home. I found Ailyn in the scrapbook room. She was sitting on the floor looking through the mini Polaroid book of Michael and I that had made five years before.
"Honey, are you ready for breakfast?"
She held up one of the pages. Sasha was licking Ailyn's leg. I don't know why she always does that. "I like this one. Daddy looks handsome." I smiled. It was from our 3rd wedding anniversary. We were on our second cruise. Thank goodness he enjoyed them more than he originally thought.
Ailyn put the book back on the shelf with the others and led me out of the room.
"Did you feed Sasha?" I reminded her.
"Oops, sorry Sasha.." I laughed as Ailyn used the happy high-pitched voice that I always do to get the little black dog's attention. "Giiirl, breakfast tiiimes!" Sasha ran back to her from the window and jumped on her hind legs as Ailyn grabbed two small handfuls of the Blue Superior Nutrition dog food and dropped it into her bowl. She patted Sasha on the back and washed her hands before following me into the living room for oatmeal.
The last scene of the episode included Pa coming home and Laura running into his arms. Keeping her focus on the TV, Ailyn handed me the empty oatmeal bowl and her tiny spoon. "Mommy, can I stay up until Daddy gets home at night? I want to give him big hugs like Laura."
How could I say no to that?
A few hours later while we were outside drawing pictures with colored chalk, my cell phone rang. I don't normally have people call except Michael, my parents and my cousin, Jessica. About a year ago I changed Michael's contact name in my phone to "Daddy" so Ailyn would know if she was allowed to answer it. It was him. She was thrilled!
"Hi Daddy! It's me, Ailyn. I love you! When are you coming home?... What?... I don't see you…" She began looking around for him, which made me do the same. When his black Nissan X-Terra drove around the corner, Ailyn dropped the phone (thankfully into the grass) and ran to the end of the driveway.
"Be careful please!" I called after her while putting the chalk back in the box. Michael slowed down and eased into the driveway. Ailyn ran back to the garage door and waited anxiously.
Michael looked confused, so I smiled at my husband and explained, "She wants to run and jump into your arms."
She nodded at me. "Like Laura. Ready, Daddy?" Ailyn didn't even wait for him to answer before she took off. Once he had her firmly in his arms, she smushed his cheeks together and kissed him on the mouth. "Mommy's right. You have soft lips." She touched his lips again with her index finger, then threw her arms over his shoulders, covering his face with dark hair, and squeezed. Her hugs are wonderful, but when she's too excited, the receiver of the hug may end up with temporary neck cramps. (Worth it.)
Turns out the main actress called in with food poisoning and the last week of shooting was only about her, so they director let everyone go home and rescheduled for Tuesday, meaning the next few days, we get "Daddy" all to ourselves!
"Good morning, Sasha. I love you. It's a beautiful day!" Our dog jumped off the bed once Ailyn opened the door, filling the room with light.
"Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" Ailyn began poking my cheek until I moved her hand away. I miss the days when she still had a crib to keep her confined until I was ready to play.
"Mommy. I have a question." I could feel her scoot closer, then crawl on the bed, laying flat on top of me. She moved some hair out of my face with her clammy hand. She whispered louder. "Mommy, can we go to church today?"
I didn't expect to hear that, considering I doubt I ever requested the same to my own parents.
She slid off my back and bumped into Michael. "Oops. Sorry, Daddy." He didn't notice.
My eyes were still closed. I smashed my face into the pillow. "Church is on Sunday. Today isn't Sunday."
"How would I know that?" She laughed and shook her head. "Oh, silly Mommy." She leaned down and whispered again. "Is church closed?"
"No, they still have church in the morning every day. What time is it?"
"Um.." Ailyn slid off the bed. "Whoa." She laughed at herself. "I'm okay."
I forced myself to get out of bed and watch our daughter make her way to the dresser and get on her tiptoes to read the clock. She looked back at me. "There is a seven in the front and a three in the middle and a seven at the end."
We had thirty minutes to get ready. We took a shower together, but this time I told her we only had enough time to wash our own bodies. She still sang made up songs while she rubbed soap all over my legs and feet.
I let Ailyn dress herself because I'm always interested in what she puts together. Today it was an orange shirt with a giraffe and bird on it, a pink skirt, white tights and black shoes. By the time she got out to the car, she also had her "church usual": white sweater, her bunny doll, flowered "purse" with colored pencils in it and her sketch book. She prefers blank pages so she can make up her own characters.
Ailyn was pretty quite the whole ride to church and at every red light I kept turning to see if maybe she had fallen asleep. But she hadn't. She just smiled at me and said, "Hello." It was so funny.
We had gotten there about ten minutes late. I forgot that the morning service starts at 8:20am instead of 8:30. Who schedules that? Everyone had been seated after the opening hymn as we walked in. Ailyn walked under my arm when I opened the door. Waving, she greeted Father Brian, "Hi, Priest!" He smiled at her and she pulled me to the front row.
I tried to pay attention to the message, but couldn't help but watch Ailyn draw birds in the clouds on her sketchpad. However, she did later inform me that they were angels, not birds. My mistake. I listened to her sing "Alleluia" over and over during every song because that’s the only words she knows. It’s the thought that counts.