I am writing this on my phone as my 2-year-old sits in my lap. Her tiny, muscular toddler legs are plopped atop of mine, her head is resting on my chest and her wild, curly hair is shooting into my eyes and nose. Basically, she is up in my grill.
I’m used to this. Her spidey toddler senses shoot off alarms when she knows I’ve sat down somewhere. So then she finds me and perches somewhere on top of me. I go about my business, peeking my head around her hair so I can see what I’m typing on my phone.
To her, what’s mine is hers and what’s hers is hers. Where I am she is.
My air is her air.
My face is her face.
My lap is her lap.
Where I sit, is where she sits.
Where Mama is, my 2-year-old is, too.
She is Isla Fisher’s character from Wedding Crashers—”Don’t ever leave me… cause I’d find you!”
I am her chaise lounge when she watches TV.
I am her chair when she eats dinner.
I am her bed when she’s tired.
I am her ride when her legs don’t want to walk anymore.
I am her jungle gym when she wants to climb.
I am her hand to hold, hair to play with, and pillow to lay on. Bad breath in the morning doesn’t deter her plentiful kisses, a sweat covered body post-workout doesn’t scare her off from tackling me with hugs, and a sopping wet body trying to shower does not stop her from hopping right in and asking me to pick her up. In fact, basically the second I turn the water on, there my kiddo is (those alarms, I’m telling you).
She peels her clothes off, tears her diaper off, grabs a few bath toys, hops right in and says something like, “You’re showering without me, silly goose!” as she grabs the soap to wash my feet for me.
When nature calls, so do her toddler alarms and there she is asking to sit on my lap or if I need any help. She likes to see what I’m doing and keeps me company or asks me for a snack and to go outside and play and to watch a show and to get some water. I tell her that this is time Mommy needs to herself and I’ll be out in a minute and she says “Okay!” as she gets me some toilet paper and tells me I’m doing a good job. (But to be clear—she definitely doesn’t leave.)
When my head hits my pillow and my eyes finally close for the night… I often wake up to her little body nestled into my side. Some nights, she cries for us in the middle of the night so my husband goes to get her and some nights she just climbs right out of her crib herself—either way, a lot of nights she finds her way into our bed. She makes a little nest with our blankets and burrows her head into the crook of my arm.
My toddler, my spirited, sensitive middle daughter is at her most comfortable when she is plopped right on top of me. Her lively, vivacious self is magically able to fully relax whenever she is cuddling with me or being held by me or just touching me in some way, shape or form. I’m so used to her always being close, it hardly phases me anymore.
But some days it does phase me. Some days, between my touchy-feely 2-year-old, my 4-year-old who still likes to be carried whenever possible and my 9-month-old who’s nursing, nursing, nursing—I am all touched out.
Sometimes the feeling of little hands on me forces me to take deep breaths so I don’t lose it. Sometimes feeling my toddler latch onto my leg and laugh hysterically as she hitches a ride while I walk about the house makes me feel such frustration that I have to pause and remind myself that she’s not trying to make me mad.
In these moments, sometimes I do lose it, I’m not going to lie. But I will give myself credit—even on my most touched out days, I often don’t.
I don’t (or I try not to) because I remind myself that…
…I am her safety net when she is unsure.
…I am her lovey when she is tired.
…I am what comforts her when she is sad.
…I am what calms her down when she is mad.
…I am what makes her feel secure when she is lonely.
…I am what makes her happy when she needs to smile.
…I am her home.
And what a privilege it is to be all of these big things to one tiny human. Because, truth be told, I love how much she needs me right now. I know it won’t be long before she only wants to go to sleep by herself, no need for mama cuddles. In a blink of an eye, she will never ask to sit on my lap or for a piggy back ride.
There will no longer be a toddler nest found in my bed, no trail of her tiny clothes to my shower, no funny conversations as I wash my hands.
So for now, I will make space for her as she needs it, because it won’t always be like this. And whether she needs physical space on me or not, she will always need space in my heart.
That, my baby, will be there for life.