"Okay, sweetie.” I knelt down, lowering myself to her level. She was playing with farm animals. “I am going to go with Diana, but we will pick you up after class.” I was so honest with her. I didn’t even lie like the first time we separated, where I told her I was changing Diana’s diaper and never came back. In my heart of hearts, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to leave. To leave her here, in this classroom, without me. Again.
Her soft hand stroked my hair, “Okay mommy,” she answered in her sweet raspy voice.
Gosh, this whole kids’ getting older thing is a tough business.
Since she was little, I have been asking her “Are you okay?” She would cough, and my anxious mind would jump to: OMG she is choking, Heimlich time! It's now, and I have been preparing. Sound the alarms, Beyoncé! So, I’d spit out in freak out mode, trying to slow down my dramatics, “Are you okay?”
Of course, she never answered. She just stared at me, maybe made a cooing noise when the coughing stopped. Her father would laugh. Yet one day she did answer…
Her first sentence took place on a humid day in June. The air was heavy and wet, making it hard to breathe. Because it was so hot, I cut the park short and decided to treat my babies to some ice cream. It was a great idea, that is-- until it wasn’t. On the car ride home, I heard a retching sound. I turned around and saw my daughter covered head to toe in throw up. “Oh no, Are you okay?” I asked, horrified by the sight of my poor daughter completely covered.
“Mommy I’m okay!” She answered as tears filled her brown eyes. It may have been the cutest and saddest thing I have ever witnessed.
When her baby sister gives me a weird look “Are you okay?” I panic.
My toddler answers for her: Mommy, I’m okay.
She always lets me know she is okay. Even if I am not asking her. She assumes it's her. Because who else would I be talking to? My world revolves around her.
I always laugh, “Good, I’m so glad you are okay.” And I am.
So today she knew I wasn’t okay. I thought I did a pretty good job disguising it, but I do wear my heart on my sleeves. But she was okay enough to comfort me in her toddler way. One stroke of my hair, like I do to hers.
And, at that moment, I knew I was going to be okay too.
This post originally appeared on the author's Facebook.