Still sleepy, I felt her stirring next to me in bed. I knew it was only a matter of moments, with the first glimmer of the sun peeking around the curtain, before Alice would be up and ready to go. I cherish these moments. For one, sleeping Alice is a peaceful Alice. It's the only time in the day she looks young. I see her chubby cheeks, her stubby baby fingers, fine wisps of blonde waves around her face. Sleeping, she is my beautiful, angelic baby girl. I also love this brief moment because I enjoy sleeping. My days of sleeping till nine are gone. Now, as a mom, I savor resting extra seconds every morning. I want to be the mom who gets up before the kids, spends quality alone time in the quiet house before it rises and consumes you with noise and demands. I am just not this mom. At the moment, I am satisfied lying quiet and still next to my little girl. Snuggled up next to her, I do not hear her whines and cries. I feel the love in my heart listening to every breath she takes, remembering the days long ago filled with new mom anxieties, when I'd rest my hand on her fragile infant chest to be sure she was breathing.
And just like that she's awake.
"I want to have my picture taken with Rich, too," she says without missing a beat, as if we were in the middle of a conversation.
"Uh huh," I mumble, confused and sleepy.
"I want to have my picture taken with Rich, too," she tells me again as she stretches her arms above her head.
Still unsure of what she is talking about I say nothing. I am always intrigued by her first words of the day. Given my druthers, I wouldn't speak to a soul in the morning until I have a cup of coffee in my hand. But, Alice always begins the day with excitement. She picks up exactly where she left off, either in her dream or the night before. She doesn't spare a single second of awake time, she speaks instantly. The moment her eyes are open and registering daylight she starts talking. Uttering her first word at nine months I should have known Alice would be a talker.
Not satisfied with my silence, she elaborates, "Like I got my picture taken with Santa, and I'm going to get it with Ray Rice, I wanna get my picture taken with Rich, too."
Ahh, now it's all starting to make sense. She's talking about Rich, a member of the band and Disney Junior TV show, The Imagination Movers. Rich is her favorite; he mostly plays drums.
And just like that, my baby is growing up.
This same child refused to sit on Santa's lap three years in a row, has never sat on the Easter Bunny's lap, ran screaming and crying from Curious George, was finally growing up. Her first morning statement made me smile. Hatta had told her yesterday he would take her this year to an event with Ray Rice, her favorite football player, so she could have her picture taken with him. There was discussion about the level of bravery needed in that scenario. She was photographed with Clifford the Big Red Dog during Halloween and standing in front of Santa a few weeks ago; I was confident she could do it. And, obviously, so was she. Finally, my little girl was learning the advantages of being brave. Maybe, just maybe, she's learning to dance.