Hope, by any other name

Day in and day out is a struggle. Work. Kids. Family. Relationships that run through all facets of my life. Soccer practice. Managing. Coding. Speaking. Not sleeping well.

It gets overwhelming. Most days end with utter exhaustion. Some end with anger. Some end with laughter. Some end with emptiness. Some end with joy. And some even end with the feeling that no matter how hard you try, there’s always something waiting to drag you down.
Then, there is a moment that warms your heart like no other. It makes you realize why you push through all of that stuff above. One of those moments happened to me last night. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Caroline had soccer practice yesterday evening. I had been in meetings all day. Struggling against the idea that I’m getting nothing done. Feeling inadequate, to be perfectly honest, on many levels.

It’s about 9:30pm. Brian’s tucked in, he’s down for the night. And Caroline walks out to tell me she’s ready for bed. Her hair is wet as I hug and kiss her goodnight. She loves taking baths after dinner these days. And as I turn to go, I see her start to climb the stairs to her bed. She’s holding something in her other hand.

Clutched in her left hand is her doll. Not just any doll. The only doll. One that she affectionately calls “Baby” because she didn’t know any better name when she received it when she was less than a year old. That doll has been through everything with her. Moves. Fights with friends. Sicknesses. Sleepovers. Family trips. Everything.

She climbed that ladder, “Baby” in tow, without any fanfare at all. It was simply part of her routine. Part of her. Maybe she’s done this night after night and I just haven’t noticed it. But I noticed it last night.

And I realized something. Deep down, underneath all of the sass and attitude and facade of wanting to be cool and accepted that comes with pending teenage-dom, she’s still my baby girl. And she still has some of that innocence left. Yes, it will eventually fade with time, even though I wish it’d stay forever. But it’s still there right now. And that makes me unbelievably happy.

I needed that moment.

More than I realized.