"Dance"? Little A held out her hand to me as I took her from her car seat. That's typically what we do when "our" song (When you born, they looked at you and said, 'what a good girl, what a smart girl, what a pretty girl...') is on; hold one hand together, she lays her head upon my shoulder and we sway slowly to the knowledge of the Barenaked Ladies.
Her groggy eyes pierced mine before she rested her sweet cheek upon me and we rocked next to the car in my sitters driveway. (This name is the hair-shirt I wear, and this hair-shirt is woven from your brown hair....this song is the cross that I bear, bear with me, bear with me, bear with me....)
When we walked into my sitter's house and she leaned herself from my arms and into my sitter's she looked at me and said, "Mom"? A question, an answer, a statement of something that still causes such dilemma within me. After all this time, each morning when I leave her, I am unnerved by how unnatural it feels.
In the world of daycare, I consider myself beyond blessed. She goes to a home where they've created a bedroom for her, complete with toys, books, a crib and clothes that they've purchased for her. ("We just had to get this for her.") My sitter's children don't correct people when they tell them that their little sister is beautiful. They have birthday parties for her, put presents under the Christmas tree with her name on it, make Easter baskets full of goodies in her honor. Yet the truth of it sometimes stabs me abruptly, causing a quick intake of breath: My daughter has a bedroom in someone else's home.
Each day now when I pick her up, she's learned new words and phrases, mastered new physical feats, has something else to show me and tell me and can barely contain herself in her excitement to demonstrate how she's grown within those hours.
Those hours. Those hours in which I pay someone else to, let's face it here, raise my child. She goes there in pajama's. She eats breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner at their table. She swims in their pool, rides on their dune buggy, runs amok through the sprinkler in their lawn under the hot summer sun. She calls out each of their names before she falls asleep at night, like a prayer to the heavens that she's written on her heart.
I've tried to do the math, to make it realistic that I could stay home and watch other people's children, write, clean, whatever I'd need to do to give myself more time with her, but it isn't an option. And while we're chatting about reality, the honest truth is that I love my job. I'm not sure who I'd be if I didn't have it; if my life really were confined to our home and the Queen's lives full time, if I didn't have this place to go and challenge myself, if I were to live without the sense of accomplishment that I feel when I know that I've been a part of a job well done.
And that is where the double-edged sword lies: firmly entrenched within me, twisting ever so slightly now and again to remind me that it's there, slicing from one part of me to deliver to the other.