We finished saying prayers, singing the "Annie" song (them from the movie, Annie), and doing the night night rituals. She sat on the edge of her bed, and looked at me.
Stella: I miss you.
I burst into tears.
Stella is our baby girl, going on three. She just started talking super clear the past few weeks. We treat her like a baby, and let her jabber, and learn everything by osmosis from her brother. She is super smart, but James gets the credit for being "smart" and she is "pretty" - at least that's the reactions I've learned. But she is smart. Way smart. Oh, so smart. She can county to "ach-teen" (eighteen), skip nineteen and twenty... knows all her ABCs, and manages to be quite insightful, intuitive and downright heartfelt.
Hence tonight. She blew me away. She's never said anything like that.
I should have seen it coming. She's told me a few mornings, "Bye Momma, I love you." Today, when I got home from work, she went into the bedroom to change clothes with me.
Stella: You go to work today, Momma?
Me: Yes, ma'am.
Stella: You have fun, right?
Tonight, Stella and I talked. After I gathered myself like a big girl, after she said, plain as day Miss you.
Me: Do you want to hear a story?
Me: Once upon a time, there was a little girl with big brown eyes.
Stella: I have eyes!
Me: ....and curly brown hair...
Stella: Looka my hair, Mommy.
Me: ....and she was beautiful and her name was Stella.
Stella: I'm Stella!
Me: ....the thing about Stella is that she's also very smart... she knows her numbers...
Stella: (holding up her fingers) one-two-three----
Me: ---and her letters, her ABC's.
Stella: Yes, yes. I have Abby-Cs too.
Me: Stella was such a smart girl, she went to school for many years. Sometimes she closed her eyes and squinched her face and dreamed of being exactly what she wanted to be. She liked to ride her bicycle---
Stella: --- I pedal fast!
Me: --- she liked to dream.
Me: This Stella knew that she was able to grow up and be strong, smart and exactly all she dreamed. Strong and smart. And happy. Happy above all, because she knew how to dream. And to live her dreams.
She and I stared at each other for a bit. [Probably because I was saying things that made no sense to her in all of my drama.]
It's easy to roll along with the second child. Stella was always easier and simpler than her brother. She didn't get near the attention, but more likely because she didn't demand it.
Doesn't mean that baby girl doesn't require or deserve it. Doesn't mean that I don't want to give it. It's just a matter of feeding the screaming mouth, and passing over the quiet one. [Not that she's quiet...anyway. You get the point.]
The guilt of working, my heavy triathlon training, the day-to-day garbage and everything else slammed into me tonight. Stella may miss me.
But tonight I realized just how much I miss her too.