Hope had two wiggly front teeth and then she did a standing-in-place-flip on the trampoline (I have no idea how you flip and stand in place at the same time) and knocked them out.
The Tooth Fairy brought her a $5 pre-viewed DVD of Veggie Tales Silly Songs and the next day we sang silly songs all day.
There’s a song called Barbara Manatee that Rhema and I used to dance to when she was a toddler. Those days everything was exaggerated and I was so hungry for any expression, any response from her. I’d hold her in my arms and we’d spin as fast as we could-
“Barbara Manatee (Manatee, Manatee)
You are the one for me (one for me, one for me)
Sent from up above (up above, up above)
You are the one I love (I love, I love, I love)”
I’d cradle her head and dip her low. And a wonderful, soul-filling giggle would bubble out of her and we’d do it over and over until we collapsed on the couch, breathless.
I was in the kitchen when Barbara Manatee came on. I’d been grumbling about all I ever do is feed them, clean them and spilled milk and ketchup and other unidentifiable substances, do the dishes, pick up dolls and toys, feed them, clean them, do the dishes… “Oh I love that song!” It had been five years at least.
To my surprise Rhema was instantly off the couch holding her arms out to me. She remembered.
I bent to lift her but that was not happening. She’s solid and nearly as tall as me now. So I tried to sway her, awkward, back and forth to the music. She looked up at me as if to say, “Woman, dance with me.”
“Ok… Rhema… jump!” I took a deep breath, bent at the knees and caught her. Then I tried my darnedest to prance and spin around the living room with all 85 pounds of my daughter. Because she remembered this was our song. Because I wanted to go back. Because I needed to hear that giggle.
At the part where I used to dip her, she totally expected me to dip her. Oh Lord, what a sight. I dipped her. But we never came back up. Instead we landed in a heap on the ground and Hope couldn’t stop laughing.
Oh Barbara Manatee, that was the last time.
The last time you pick up your firstborn and hold on for dear life.
You’ll always carry her, not so much with hands now but with invisible arms and all your heart, as she stands on her own.
The last time your baby girl has this funny, gummy grin, her mouth full of holes.
Take a million heart snapshots and circle this moment on your calendar of life. Today is important. Remember this.
“You are the one I love (I love, I love, I love).”