I am back from Orlando, and there are a million things I could tell you about my trip.
I could talk about my dear friends Brenda Minton and Stephanie Newton and the fun we had together.
I could talk about the flip flops Brenda talked me into buying.
Or the pain that has resulted from wearing them.
I could talk about the hotel.
About the fabulous dinner I had with my agent.
But all I really want to talk about is pudding.
When I woke this morning, I was thinking about A Christmas Carol: The Movie. If you're a fan (and I am), you'll remember the moment when the Christmas pudding is presented to Bob Cratchit. Remember his face when he took the first bite? The way he frowned as if it was not good, and then smiled broadly and announced it to be the best pudding ever?
The proof was, indeed, in the pudding that day.
Why, you might ask, am I thinking about pudding and proof?
Before I left for Orlando, I made brief mention of Cheeky's incessant questions. "When will you be home? When will you be home? When will you be home? WHEN WILL YOU BE HOME?" she asked over and over and over again until I wanted to scream in frustration.
When I returned yesterday, my family greeted me with joy (the children) and relief (the husband), and I greeted them with hugs and kisses and thanksgiving. I loved getting away, but being home....being home is like a cool breeze on a hot day. It truly refreshes the soul.
Cheeky and Sassy clung to my hands as we waited at the baggage claim. Sassy's hand was dry and warm, her face glowing with joy. She was anxious about me leaving, too, and there was no doubt she was glad to have me home. Cheeky, on the other hand, had a sweaty, sticky, cold little palm. Every few minutes, she'd lean close to me and inhale deeply and then she'd say, "I need to hug you, Mommy," and I'd hug her, and the entire ritual would begin again.
Cold, sweaty palm.
Over and over again.
When we walked out of the airport, she clung to my hand as if I were her lifeline to the world, and when we got in the car, she stared at me as I settled into my seat, buckled my seatbelt and made myself comfortable.
"Did you have fun, Mommy?" she asked.
"I had a great time," I replied. "But I missed you all, and I am so glad to be home."
"I missed you, too. I didn't know when you were coming home." She said, and I thought about the hundred-thousand times I'd told her I was coming home on Saturday. Apparently, Sassy was thinking about the same.
"She told you she'd be back today, Cheeky." She offered in her impatient older sister voice.
"But I didn't know if it was this Saturday," Cheeky responded, and the two began
And it occurred to me that I was Mom again. Not Shirlee the Author, the lady who dresses in clothes that can be worn to nice restaurants and to cocktail parties, who signs books and talks about the business as if she knows it, who doesn't have to worry about cooking dinner or cleaning up after it.
And it felt so good, people. It felt like my heart was back where it belonged, as if all the little pieces of me had come back together, and I embraced my frumpy momhood, pulling my nicely coiffed hair back into a ponytail and letting the cool Spokane air whip it into a frenzy while my kids and husband regaled me with tales of their trials during my absence.
Later, I went into my room to put something away and was tempted by the bed. After being up until three Saturday morning and waking at four so I could leave for the airport at 4:40, I was exhausted. The kids and husband were occupied with Saturday stuff, and I lay down. I think I was there five minutes when I heard her coming down the hall.
"Mommy? Where are you, Mommy?"
"In my room."
Seconds later, my youngest climbed onto the bed.
I was lying on my back, and I turned my head so we were face to face. "Did you have fun while I was gone?"
"Yes. We went in the pool and we ate chicken, but I missed you, Mommy." And she rested her hand on my stomach.
"I missed you, too."
"You did?" She looked into my face, her eyes drifting from side to side as they only do when she is nervous or sad or worried she is in trouble.
"Of course, I did. You are my daughter. You are more important to me than anything. When we are not together, it is like a piece of my heart is missing." And I thought we will have this conversation again. It will be repeated a hundred-thousand times.
She smiled, then, her hand drifting along my stomach until she found a piece of flesh not covered by my shirt. Her palm rested there, and she cuddled close, inhaled deeply.
"My Mommy." She said.
Just that. My Mommy.
And I thought of Bob Cratchit and that Christmas pudding. The sense of anticipation that filled everyone as he tasted and found it pleasing. That, I think, is how Cheeky felt while she waited at the airport.
May every child who longs for forever taste and find the same.
Blessings for the day!