4 am…

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Once upon a time, early morning cries pulled me from my slumber, down a flight of stairs to a bedroom crib, where a fickle,yet hungry red headed doll, impatiently waited for her (me) breakfast. On occasion, her father would arrive home from work in time, to help me place her fully satiated, slumbering form back into the crib. There we’d stand watching her breathe in and out, hoping against hope, her brother would remain asleep a while longer, allowing us a few extra winks of sleep as well.

Once upon a time, her father rolled over toward me and said, “She really needs to learn to sleep by herself…” I agreed. Yet her imagination was so vivid and alive. The zombie apocalypse was immanent, as evidenced by her screams of fear and tears each night when she would join us in our bed for protection. “Mommy I’m scawed!” She would say, wiping her tear soaked face on my night shirt. “Shh, you’re okay, Mommy and Daddy are here…”

Once upon a time, when her brother left to spend three weeks with his Grandmother in Tennessee, I found her not asleep in her bedroom, but rather asleep in his. “Doll, what’s going on?” I asked her, pulling her from her slumber. “I’m miss brubba..” She replied. “Okay…” I replied, not searching for deeper meaning, even though I knew, there was more to the story. “What time did you change rooms?” I asked. “I don’t know, I think my cwock said 4 am…” Frowning I replied, “Seems it would have been easier just to roll over..” under my breath.

Once upon a time, I found several long red strands of hair in the bathroom garbage can and questioned my doll about my find. “Oh Mom, I decided to give my doll ‘Ariel’ a hair cut…” She replied. “Are you sure?” I asked, knowing full well she was lying to me. “Of course. You don’t think I’d cut my own hair would you?” She quickly spun around as evidence to the contrary and moved quickly away. Later that evening, after her bath, I began to comb out her hair and found where the missing hair belonged. “Uh doll, are you sure you don’t have anything to tell me about your hair?” “No mommy…” At 4 am the next morning, she climbed in bed with me to apologize for lying. Too tired for anything else, I forgave her instantly and then snuggled with my baby until we both fell back to sleep.

Once upon a time… once upon a time, my life is filled with “Once upon a times”, as I reflect back on my children’s gradual progression from baby to young lady and man. Not to beat a dead horse with a phrase, but every time I do blink, they mark another milestone in their lives–one that moves them closer to independence and further away from me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m ready to see them fly and flourish… just not so quickly…my heart can hardly handle the current speed as it is.

img_0594Once upon a time, my doll woke up at 4 am and thought, “It’s too early, roll over, go back to sleep…” and tried to follow her advice. Around 5:30 am, tired of waiting for the day to begin, she got up, entered the living room, turned on Netflix and then waited for the rest of the day to catch up with her excitement for Freshman Orientation. A planner from way back, she made sure all her clothes were washed three weeks ahead of time then played with the materials until she was satisfied with how they looked on her. She meticulously played with different hairstyles the night before, looking for the “look” that would help her make the best impressions to others. The week leading into orientation, nervous energy fueled a creative streak that helped her create a deliciously decadent chocolate cheese cake (for her Dad’s birthday), sketched and then painted a mountain landscape and then began to work on other craft.

Once upon a time, my doll went to preschool, then kindergarten, then elementary, middle and junior high. Today my doll became a Freshman, in High School. What’s neat and sad about these turn of events is my “Once upon a time” days are numbered and as sad as that makes me feel right now, I also couldn’t be happier for our future as her dreams begin to take flight.

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