Mind cycling through the daily routine, I slowly slide off the bed. I waddle around with my swollen belly, pain erupting from inconveniently placed baby kicks.
I feed the animals, step back inside, breathe. Head spins from standing too long washing dishes. Turn on washing machine, more pain; crouch down, turn, bend, breathe.
I waddle up the stairs. Panting at the top, I head toward the girls’ room.
“Good-morning Mum-mum!” my three year old squeaks, “cuddle please!”
I embrace her.
She nuzzles into my chest “I love you thousands and millions!”
My heart swells and I feel invincible again.
I lay face down on the floor, eyes closed. Giggles ensue, but not from me, they flitter in and out around me. Over there. Here. No, behind me. Wait, right in front.
I feel little fingers dancing along my sides. More giggles.
Now they’re on top; a solid body slam from each ensured that. Their tiny forms bouncing and laughing as I call for help beneath them.
“Get her good,” their dad appears close by.
I catch my breath and turn my head in the direction of his voice.
Arms crossed, he smiles.
Isabella danced over to me from watching the TV as I held a play costume in my hand.
“Skirt on, please, Mum-mum,” she said. I bent to pull the billowing pink dress-up skirt over her feet and up to her waist. She was very co-operative; stepping into the middle of the skirt and holding very still as I lifted it, watching my actions with wonder.
“All done,” I said. I was curious to see how she would incorporate this first-ever costume into her play. She’d never played dress-up before.
“Thank you mum-mum!” She said politely and bounced away on tip-toes with a big smile. Suddenly she stopped and spun around, lifting her hands onto her head, “ballerina!” she exclaimed and she twirled in circles, laughing.
“Wonderful dancing!” I said, laughing with her.
She was always doing things just to make others smile.
She stopped twirling. “Dizzy!” She giggled, holding her arms out to the sides for balance.
And I surely couldn’t stop smiling.
“What are you doing Dad-o?” She questioned her dad who was bent over a cardboard box.
“I’m emptying this box, Darling,” he replied as he tipped the now-empty box on its side in the centre of the room.
She looked at her dad with pleading eyes, before taking another step and he knew she wanted his permission. “Go for it, Bub, it’s for you,” he said.
Back up on her tip-toes, she glided around her new toy and ran her hands over the box, marvelling at its unfamiliar texture. She ducked down and looked inside, giggling as our black cat popped out and walked off, “Corey!” she said. Everything was so exciting for her, she made everything exciting too. She could certainly find wonder in the smallest of things.
Suddenly, Dad-O picked her up and placed her down on top of the box. She sat very still, her pink skirt splayed around her. After a moment of thought, our little angel tucked her feet under the skirt, straightened her back and looked at us with a small smile.
“Queen Isabella!” She exclaimed, lifting her hand in a regal wave.
Dad-O and I bowed to our new queen.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, lifting her chin and then returned her attention to her interrupted TV cartoon.
My darling looked down at me from atop the change table while I buttoned up the last of her jumpsuit. Her face was alight with curiosity. She traced her finger softly over my cheek, inspecting every detail, and finally stopped at a point on my chin.
“What’s this Mum-mum?” She asked, her brow furrowed in wonder.
“It’s a pimple, Darling,” I explained, excited about the opportunity to teach her something new. Her face lit up. Her eyes shot up to my forehead and travelled quickly over my face, little fingers following, “so many pimples!” She chirped happily, she finally had a name for them.