This is her real face. This is her middle-child, look-at-me-I'm-funny face. And boy howdy, is that girl funny.
But this may be the face I love the most on her (aside from her concentrating/tongue-stuck-out face). This is her open face. This is her who-I-am face. This is her I'm-watching-you-World face.
You know the old "a picture says a thousand words" bit? Well, to me, these pictures say ten thousand words. They are all written on my heart and, while some of them may eventually make their way down to my fingertips, most of what I feel for and about her is known only to me. Yes, I tell people how funny she is. Yes, I tell people she is the most pleasant child. Yes, I tell them she is a wonderful, loving, devoted sister. I even tell her. I tell her she is a blessing to me. I tell her that she is so smart. I tell her how beautiful she is, and I tell her that if all of her hair fell out and her teeth turned into marshmallows that she would still be the most beautiful girl in the world.
Tonight my Bees went to bed early and my husband did too. I wondered aloud (ok, I wondered to the twitters) if I could take time to write something for myself. There is a file on my computer that I haven't opened since June. One I think about, one I add to every day in my head, but am often too tired, too anxious, or to busy to actually type anything into.
Sure enough, mere moments after I put it out there, I hear my Ladybug sobbing. My Girl wants so badly to be brave, to have adventures, but at three-and-eleven-twelfths, sometimes she is still so very Little. Tonight she wanted to sleep, to camp out, on the floor of the play/school room. Her Bubby did it once this week, because he is fearless and because he is always looking for ways to get out of the business of sleep, and since my Ladybug adores her brother so, she wanted to try it out on her own.
She lasted all of two hours.
As soon as I heard her cry, I rushed into the room and gathered her up like she was a ragdoll. She slumped into me and threw her arms around my shoulder, her little body racked with tears. I asked her what was wrong, but I already knew her answer: "I (gulp) don't (heave) know (sob)!" Sometimes something wakes her up and she. just. doesn't. know. what.
I got her a sip of water and laid her back down on her pink pallet. I stroked her hair and face (the only thing that ever made her still as a baby was for me or her daddy to "paint" her face), and I covered her body with mine. I put weight on her and I whispered in her ear.
"You are never alone. I am with you. Jesus is in your heart. You are safe. You are wonderful. You are my sweetface girl. God is with you always. You are safe. You are not alone. You are loved."
The same sweet, calming words my mother used to whisper to me when I woke up crying for no reason at all. I comforted her until she went hiccuped her way back to sleep. I tucked her Baby under her neck. I brushed the hair out of her hot little face.
At odd and unexpected times I am hit in the chest, overcome with pure love. For my kids, for my husband, for my Lord, for my friends, for my family. When I was pregnant with The Boy and ever since, my eyes well up and overflow of their own accord. I do not give them permission to leak, but they do it anyway.
As I closed the door- leaving just her preferred two inches open- I began what can only be called "weeping." My baby girl is so Small, and yet is growing so fast. She is her very own person, no matter how much of me I try to instill in her. She is brave and kind and innocent and perfect and she is hot-tempered and easily disappointed and can scream like you wouldn't believe. I was crying over how many times I've let her down and over how many things I know I have done Right. I was missing the baby who would nurse in her sleep like a sweet dream. I was praying for the girl who will someday break my heart. But mostly I was thinking about how much I would do for her, the lengths I would go to in order to prevent her a moment's pain.
For all of her own-ness, she is still a walking image of myself. A sassy, sweet, strong, silly little girl. And when she needs to cry, I'll let her. And when she needs to be comforted, I'll hold her.