Single Momhood

To Baby Girl, age 6, on the first night you slept over with a friend

Written in 1999 …

I just hung up the phone from telling you good night – it doesn’t sound the same across a wire – and I’m lying her thinking of you. Your words were hurried and slurred from excitement and exhaustion as you described your afternoon at the pool, your dinner of hot dogs and macaroni, and the video you were watching. You assured me you had Blanky and Clancy Bear and that you would make it through the night. You didn’t know I was worried whether I might make it.

Funny, you may be the six-year-old who rolled her eyes and called me “Muh-ther” this afternoon but tonight, on the phone, you were my baby. I imagine your face as you sleep, so soft and sweet, and I wonder if someone else will kiss it tonight. When you kick the covers off – which you will – will her mother cover you with the same care as I do?

Your smell will seem foreign to anyone else – that sweet, sweet smell of you fresh from the tub but with memories of the day that couldn’t be lathered away. Today would leave the smell of giggles, chlorine, sunscreen, hot dogs and bubble-gum flavored toothpaste. I can almost smell you.

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