This green-gold chair in all its vintage swivel rocking glory holds memories. It used to belong to my grandparents. My brothers, sisters, and all our cousins were warned not to spin in it when we were little. Because it’s not a toy.
It’s a gift.
Today it holds me and Z.
My independent-keep-on-moving-do-it-myself-never-stop-trying-until-you-figure-it-out baby girl.
She’s growing up way too fast.
I scooped up her four year old body, setting her lightly on my lap. It’s time to learn her Bible verse for Wed. night church. But she’d much rather snuggle. With her eyes and hands scrunched up, she squeezes me tightly.
“Oh, Zhu-zhu. Mommy Zhee-Zhee Wohm.”
This is her nickname for me because I’m almost always warm, especially when she is in a snuggling mood.
Smiling, I ask her for a “‘mooch.”
She gives me several. I return the favor and we giggle.
I read her lesson and look at the verse.
“Love each other as I have loved you.”
Do you know what that means, Z?
She shakes her head “no.”
I try to think of a way to explain so she will understand. Sometimes the simple answer is the best.
Does Mommy love you?
She nods “yes.”
Do you love your sisters?
Does Mommy want you to love your sisters as much as I love you?
That’s how God wants us to love each other. Just like He loves us.
Her nose wrinkles when she smiles, leaning into me.
As we recite the verse together, we seal each word with a “mooch” on the cheek for good measure. And she giggles some more.
I feel her body relaxing against me.
She sighs. “I’m tired.”
I am surprised to hear her say it because she’s usually the last to admit it. I think about taking her to her bed.
When was the last time she fell asleep while I held her? Was she two?
I hum her favorite songs then sing words quietly, moving the chair back & forth in time to the music. She doesn’t squirm. A squeaky old swiveling chair that rocks can be a pretty awesome thing sometimes.
Her eyelids droop.
I pray her big sisters don’t make any sudden noises.
Her breathing deepens and I feel her weight heavy against me.
As she relaxes, her legs and arms twitch as if to say they aren’t ready for sleeping yet. Her left hand opens slightly and I feel a small something fall onto my leg beneath. Make that two small somethings. Shifting her gently, I feel with my hand between my legs. I hadn’t known she was holding anything. My fingers close on something sticky. I lift my hand to see two jelly beans streaking orange and red across my fingers. They are covered in sugary wrinkles from being held for a long time in warm, moist little hands.
She sighs in her sleep. A happy contented sigh that comes from deep inside as I brush the hair away from her forehead with my free hand. I close my eyes and hold these gifts tightly. In one hand, my youngest daughter in all her sleeping beauty. In the other, two sticky jelly beans.
These childhood days will soon be gone.
Will she ever sleep on my lap like this again?
I think about that bedtime a few weeks ago. Her thin cool arms reached for me from the darkness. Slight hands clasped like a delicate necklace in a circle around my neck, pulling my head gently onto her pillow.
“Oh Mommy Zhu-zhu! I want you to stay hee fowevoh!”
As I sit now with my cheek resting on her tousled hair and her warm body against mine in this chair of memories, I feel my answer.