The husband and I took turns taking care of her every whim and desire. Perhaps the husband took a few more turns as I was at work from 8-5 and well, this little one has had him wrapped around her finger since pretty much her first breath. Be they nightmares or simply, "I am in a weird place and can't sleep" moments, we were there, together, comforting her sweet little heart. We got a short taste of what it means to literally take care of another being who cannot fully take care of themselves. We had a few midnight wakeups, some awkward "this is not my kid, I'm not sure how to handle this moment!" moments, lots of laughs and plenty of smiles that came with living with one of the smartest five year olds I have ever met for an entire week.
I will never forget that first moment when that sweet little girl bent forward to give me a goodnight kiss smack dab on the lips. My heart felt confused. Doesn't this little one know that I am a selfish human unworthy of her apparent unconditional love? Doesn't she know that when she woke me up in the middle of the night, it was Ben's turn to get up with her? Doesn't she know that I missed getting to watch my TV shows when she put on Spiderman and his Amazing Friends? No, she probably doesn't know that. All I know is that to this is the sweetest little thing I have ever come across and that she is so loving and trusting of us. All I know is that she, in this moment, was freely giving me love. All I know is that in these little moments, she chose to tell me "I love you" and my heart literally felt like it was melting deep inside of my chest.
And at the end of the week when she and her family drove away, we realized that the only way we got through it was together. Each of us paying attention to our God given strengths (and our different weaknesses) meant a unique experience of learning how to grow in harmony with a small human life that is so utterly aware of life's hardships, pain, challenges and, most importantly, life's love. Together, we saw the unconditional love of a sweet little one with a crazy amount of strength and energy. Together, we experienced a much more exciting week. Together, we tackled living with a five year old for a week... and here we are on the eve of her brother coming to experience his turn at the Swihart House. At least this time we know the secret. The only way to survive is doing it together because two are better than one.
Me: (after find crumbs in her bed) "E, did you eat a cupcake in the middle of the night?!"
E: "Yes... But I was jumping on the bed while eating it!"
How do you not smile at this little one?