When Claire was done with First Grade today she walked home with an army of cousins. They all arrived at my doorstep hungry and hot. Claire clutched a brown package addressed to me.
"It was on the doorstep." She explained. "Open it!"
I was about to, but then I heard WAAAAAH! from the nursery.
I returned shortly after, The Chief gnawing at my shoulder as I patted his padded behind.
"Open it now!" Claire demanded again taking over The Chief as usual. The two of them are inseparable in the afternoons, only apart when the baby needs his "juice." They are also known to spend hours together smiling at each other and cooing back-and-forth. In essence, they are totally co-dependent.
Inside the package I found my copy of the mother in me book that I contributed to with a short essay about infertility.
"It's my book!" I exclaimed holding it one-handed like a preacher with a bible.
"Your book?" Asked Claire.
"Well, sorta. I have an essay in here."
"Read it to me." Claire was matching my excitement.
"I said, read it to me."
I tried to explain that it might not be interesting to a First Grader, but she insisted. I think my excitement sold her on the brilliance of the book (it is brilliant) and she wanted a taste. So after the cousins left for their respective homes, we snuggled on the couch and I read her my essay.
She listened to every word while clutching The Kung Fu Kicking Chief of Spazzy Shorts. And though as a rule I never read any of my stuff once it's been printed, I have to say by the end of the essay--my own essay--I was crying. How is that for self-motivated?
Now, before we arrived in Utah I had to warn Claire that people would be crying a lot in her presence. "It's because they love you so much." I explained. By now she is used to adult tears, though it doesn't stop her from staring with her big hazel eyes. This time she wasn't staring at me, but burrowing her face in the folds of the baby's neck.
"I want to tell you why I am crying." I said.
"Ok" She replied softly.
"For five years I wanted a baby. I wanted a baby so bad that sometimes I would steal you when your mom wasn't watching! You were like my own baby. But then you moved to New Jersey and I couldn't see you as much. That is when I really, really wanted a baby of my own."
The Chief squawked and punched his arms. Claire held him tighter.
"I never knew why Heavenly Father didn't send us a baby until a year ago, when I found out that I was pregnant. I just knew that there was a reason we didn't have The Chief when we wanted. But now I think I know why."
"Why?" Claire's interest was obvious in her eyes.
"Because He was saving The Chief for you. He wanted The Chief to be here when you were here with me. You make The Chief smile and he needs to smile. Smiling makes him grow."
Claire liked this idea, and grinned at the thought.
And someday I will tell The Chief the same thing.
"He was saving you for Claire. He wanted you to be here when Claire came along. You make Claire smile and she needs to smile. Smiling helped her make it through. You helped her make it through."
A tender mercy with just the right timing.
Now I get it.
P.S. Should you chose to pick up the mother in me please be prepared to cry at the end of every essay, but most especially the poetry. The poetry nearly killed me tonight.