While running my fingers through my little one's silky blonde hair as she sat on my lap and created beautiful artwork with her sketchbook and crayons, I remembered another little blondie, not much older than her, who I knew a few years ago, and she changed my life.
She was small and pretty, with her dad's platinum blonde hair and her Mom's latin brown eyes. At about two years old, she was adjusting to the arrival of a new baby sister and the shift of attention from her to the newest in the family. She loved to apply my lip balm on her teeny toddler lips, and followed me to the bathroom whenever I went. She loved to run her fingers through people's hair. She was a little stubborn, very sweet, and very beautiful.
Penelope was my first little friend of that age. I grew up the youngest in my family, was never around many babies or children, and had no nieces or nephews. She was kind of an alien creature to me. She, and all other humans with young, developing brains. From her I learned not to flinch and make disgusted faces when a baby gave a heartfelt, open-mouthed, drool-soaked kiss on the cheek. From her I learned to hold small hands in public. And I wondered greatly about a lot of things as I observed her then-curious-to-me behavior and listened to her Momma tell me all sorts of things about her.
One evening at her home, Penny came running to me with tears in her eyes and arms outstretched, seeking comfort. When I picked her up, she wrapped those arms around me, buried her face into my neck, dug her little fingers into my hair, and completely melted my heart. I don't remember exactly what I said or did beyond that, but within a few moments she was smiling and giggling again and it hit me that somehow, she was comforted. I had never experienced anything like it ever before. I had never known what it was like to be loved by a child.
She changed my life that day. As small a thing as it was, those few moments with Penelope made me want to do something I had never wanted to do before: become a mother.
And motherhood has truly been one of the most joyful, demanding, rewarding, draining, difficult, and happiest things in my life. It is my life.
This little girl who calls me Mommy, who kicks and smacks me when she's mad, who wants to help make dinner every night, who makes me laugh and smile, whose little quirks and vocabulary I know and understand better than anyone else.. she is my life. The thumping little girl in my belly, who's still deceivingly small compared to the watermelon she appears to be.. I love her already.
I'd never considered the name Penelope to be a very nice one, and even my friendship with one very special Penelope didn't change that. Until recently, when a friend named her newborn Penny and I choked up at the sight of her name, and I didn't realize before how sweet it had become to me.
We have a name chosen already for Baby Girl #2, but I'm thinking.. maybe someday? As a heartfelt thank you to the girl who made me want to be a Mommy?
We'll see. Someday... we'll see.