Our tree is dead.
I mean, I guess technically all Christmas trees are dead, since they are cut down and are no longer attached to their roots. But our tree? It's really dead, really dry and hasn't drank any of the water we've provided. Needless to say I'm eager to get it out as I pull the the last strand of lights from it's brittle branches.
Clif is outside preparing his roof rack for the tree and Ainsley is anxiously dancing at the window in her bare feet.
Mommy, can I go outside? Please can I go mommy?
I don't let Ainsley go outside without me. On the few occasions that I've let her stay in the front yard while I run in to grab forgotten keys or glasses, my mind races about all the horrible things that could happen to her while I'm not watching. She could run into the street and be hit by a car (we live on a cul-de-sac). She could fall on the concrete steps/sidewalk and bust her lip (she mastered the stairs 2 years ago). Someone could take her (I'm pretty sure she'd scream). Of course, any of these things could happen, they just aren't very likely to occur in the 3 seconds it takes me to run into the house and grab my purse.
Since Clif is outside, even though he's busy, I allow it. For 6 months now, I've been watching kids alone while cleaning house, working, scrap booking, cooking, etc. He can probably manage to watch our three year old while putting the tree on the roof of his car.
Put on your shoes I say.
She rushes to her room singing a made up song along the way and emerges in her UGG boots. They were a Christmas gift from Uncle Cam last year. They're a little small this year, but she loves them and they're so cute. If not for very cool and hip Aunts and Uncles, I'm pretty sure my kids would never have designer labels. I am not a designer label kind of gal.
She rushes out the open front door yelling Daddy, I'm coming outside as she goes. It's an incredibly warm day for January 1st, so the door stays open and I can hear her make believe play as I pack away the last few Christmas decorations.
Not 10 minutes later, Ainsley and Clif return to pull the tree out of the house, through the yard and up on the roof rack. I scoop up Freddie and follow them outside.
Ainsley runs for her tricycle saying Mommy, I'm doeing to work now. You stay here with Freddie. I'm doeing to work.
This is one of Ainsley's favorite games. For her to be the mommy and go to work. I remember when she first created this make believe scenario. It was right about the time Clif lost his job and she was watching me leave for work every day. She was about 19 months old. We'd be outside and in her developing baby talk she'd say I sowwy, I ave to doe. Then she'd kiss me goodbye, climb in her little car, move about 5 inches forward, then excitedly look back and say I home now!
I guess at the time, that's what it was like for her. She'd cry when I left and my heart would break, but in her world, I always came back so soon. And in between she had daddy to entertain her.
However, today, she gets on her trike and heads down the driveway, right into the street. Ainsley is not allowed in the street without me. I open my mouth to stop her, but then I pause. And the memory of her going just a couple of inches and then returning floods my mind. Jumping out of the car and running over to throw her little baby arms around me because she was finally home. She ventures further away from me now...confident and unafraid.
I am proud of this. We have taught her to be confident. We have not scared her away from living. So instead of calling her back and explaining that we do not go in the street without mommy. I walk down the driveway and give her new limitations.
Ainsley, do you see the red sign? She nods. You're not allowed past the red sign. If I see you go past the red sign, we go inside and you're not allowed to ride your bike anymore.
I have just increased her world immensely. She excitedly peddles off and I return to my spot on the front step. Yes, I am proud...but the weight of this one moment strikes me. Where has that sweet little baby gone? How did she become so big, so fast? How will I be able to give her the space she needs without my heart breaking? What will happen to me when she doesn't need me anymore?
She peddles right up to the STOP sign and looks back at me. I motion for her to come back towards me and she immediately does.
She leaves her bike at the bottom of the driveway and runs excitedly towards me.
Mommy! Mommy! I did it! I only went to the red sign and then I come back to you!
I smile at this huge accomplishment for her and giggle as I look down and see those little UGGs on the wrong feet.