Once I had a little girl with curls that haloed around her head.
At bedtime those curls caressed my face. I lingered, agreeing to one more book after another. I was addicted to Juju’s curls, their soft feather kisses, like a drug.
Then, one spring day, her brother cut them, with dull kindergarten safe scissors. They lay on the dark tarmac of our New Jersey driveway and I sat next to them, sobbing hot tears of regret. I wanted to hit him, I wanted to shake him, but instead I just cried. Both Juju and Jack looked on, puzzled my messy tears.
I didn’t know then that there would be one more baby. That Juju wouldn’t be the last owner of soft baby curls that I could bury my face in, night after night after night. On that spring afternoon, in front of my confused kids, I mourned the end of my childbearing years.
Juju and Jack, unaffected by my outpouring of grief, danced around me, flinging the hair at each other in the sunshine.
Then came Sophie, a roll of the dice, a vague sense that our family of five wasn’t complete. A “let’s see what happens” baby. A baby for the entire family.
And for the last three years, we have loved this baby. From her downy head of curls to her teeny tiny toes.
This fall, all of the sudden, she seems to be outgrowing her diapers, her crib, and calling herself a big girl. Even her baby curls are being replaced by long, straight golden hair.
Her first haircut looms. Soon her baby curls will lie in a heap on the ground. I won’t scoop them up, clump them up in a plastic baggie. I’d rather treasure them in my memory, just as they were yesterday, glowing and bouncing in the fall sunset. And I hope that twenty years from now, I still remember the feel of their kiss as she snuggles in deep for our bedtime book reads.
I know I’ll cry again. Russian Pantene commercials make me cry. My brand of motherhood is a tearful one. But I’ll shed less tears this time, this truly last time, when I say goodbye to Sophie’s baby curls. My baby years are over, but I’ve enjoyed every delicious minute of them.