I want to remember 4. Blond curls, blue eyes and the excitement of a lollipop. Princess dresses, tutus and bangs that are too long. I want to remember what you said in the car that was so perfect, just a few hours ago, but now I can’t remember.
I want you to always love me this much, to tell me I’m your favorite person. I want to hear the sound of your 4-year old feet on the stairs, the sound of your 4-year old voice. I want to remember playing princess and building castles, watching your favorite cartoons and what it feels like to lie on the couch with you in my arms, falling asleep in my lap on movie night. I want to fasten your car seat one more time and scold you for lost mittens, wipe the snot away from your face and wince at the tears when I send you to your room for not listening to me.
I want to spend every minute of every day with you, but you will make me crazy if I do, with all the wants and needs and calls for help. There is so much coloring and Play-Doh, pretend play in your kitchen, so many snacks and meals and sippy cups, and so many questions you keep asking me. And then there are errands I must run and you don’t want to come. A sibling to pick up, and you are on the floor in a tantrum.
I want you to always want a cuddle to help you fall asleep and “night-night water” you demand I put in your doll house. I want to always have to read Dr. Seuss and all the princess books and the one about Angelina and the Dora book I don’t like. I want to always buy purple toothpaste with sparkles in it because grown-up toothpaste is too spicy. I want you to always keep the lights on because you are afraid of monsters in the dark. I want to always pour your juice in a sippy cup when you are “fursty” and remind you that you only get one juice a day, that you need to drink your milk. I want you always to drink juice and milk and play with Barbies and dolls and carry “flowa blankie” around the house. I want to walk around with your dirty socks in my pocket and ponies in my purse. I want there to always be rocks you collected in the parking lot in my bathroom.
I want to remember all of it and hold you in this moment forever, but I know that someday you will be 10, sitting across the dinner table from me like your older sister, and I will have forgotten all of this and more.
Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.