I play volleyball in a local co-ed league. Game times vary each week. Sometimes they are as early as 6 or as late as 9. On this particular night, I was leaving at 8:30 for a 9:00 game just before my three daughters went to sleep. I helped them with pajamas and stories, and I left before my husband tucked them in. This meant I messed with my toddler’s routine. I was gone the last twenty minutes of her day.
I am usually the one who takes Reece to her bed after stories. I tuck her in, leave her with music playing and the toy elephant shining stars on her ceiling. I know when her daddy puts her to bed he’s more apt to not entertain last requests (more water, another story). He’s kind but keeps her on task.
In the morning, I heard Reece get out of bed and come stand by our bedroom door. She peeked in first. Then, shoved the door open and ran to my side. She climbed on me, straddled my stomach, grabbed my face with both hands and got nose-to-nose. “Mommy, you’re home!”
“Yes. I am.” I laughed. She sounded so surprised.
She giggled and nuzzled her cheek next to mine. She sat back up. To look. To take in that it was indeed me. I wondered what Time had been for her. Did it seem like weeks since I’d been around? What did she tell herself in the night about her mommy being gone?
Putting her hands on my face and exclaiming such delight–as if I am a better gift than the Hug Me Elmo toy she got for Christmas–started my day just right. I know we adults don’t think about it much, but it is a bit of a miracle each time a family member returns home. Perhaps a little celebration, a little “Damn, am I glad to see you” is all a loved one needs to hear.