I still can't believe it.
Her mom is my sister, in so many ways (other than biological) and her daughters tug at my heartstrings like crazy.
Before you start to think that I am one of those girls who just loves children, let me clear this up for you: I do not like kids. I like specific kids. I love these ones in a way I had not thought possible. After years of babysitting, working in the church nursery and burnout, this could only be God.
I met this two-year-old on day three of her life, and she slept peacefully in my arms for an hour or two in the sunshine. Yesterday, I left the jump house (!) to get a glass of water and she followed me to the screen door screaming "come BACK, Cara, come back!" Later on, when most of the party had left, we sat on the couch next to Grandma and her older sister and she snuggled under my chin to watch The Little Mermaid.
We are friends.
Most of the friends who came to the party also brought "little friends." This particular group has had a lot of babies recently, and there were kids everywhere.
One little five-month old with a stylish name and a green polo dress caught my eye. I borrowed her for a while and we bounced on an exercise ball on the grass. She was perfectly plump in the way babies are, soft and laden with cheeks and eyes.
As we sat and swayed I was completely overwhelmed by the thought of her future. I started to cry, a bit, as I thought about her growing up, getting hurt, making mistakes. All at once, she was not just a baby to me, she was a little person, created by God with all the potential for joy and pain and life as I am. I found myself hugging her a little tighter, wanting to protect her from it all.
This happens to me sometimes.
I'll call or text my friend and wonder aloud about what it will be like when her girls start dating, or when we aren't cool to play with anymore, or when, or when. I start to think about all that will be, and as I read the movie storybook of Cinderella for the millionth time, with a sweet girl on my lap, I realize that I'm holding a part of the future.
I used to be like them, content to sit for hours, just being held, wanting to read books over and over, playing by myself in a corner and making up stories. It shocks me how little those things have changed about me. I am still that little girl, I've just grown taller and learned more words. More things have happened in my life to change and shape me. But she's still here.
We were talking, last night, about memories, and how early we can think back. How funny our memories are; the things that we choose to remember seem drawn at random from a hat. We never know what we're going to get. Each moment might be a memory for these little ones.
"A person's a person, no matter how small." - Dr. Seuss
I'm not sure I'll look at a baby the same way again.