That was two days ago. "Yucky? My kisses are yucky?"
The lovely husband wasn't home again at bedtime, and L prefers her daddy over me quite often, and most especially at bedtime.
Yeah. Could you take your kisses off of me? Only Daddy's kisses are nice.
I obliged, and made an exaggerated vacuum hose with my mouth and hands, and sucked my yucky kisses off her besmirched head. "Daddy will be home after you're asleep, love. I'll send him into your room to put some not-yucky kisses on you."
Thanks, Mama, she said sincerely.
They knew, as we got ready for bedtime tonight, that their daddy wouldn't be home. They knew in the way they watched extra television and in the way I tandem snuggled them and in the way I was less relaxed and more focused than I am when I have a bedtime co-conspirator. I got G to sleep and I returned downstairs to fetch the girls and as I reminded them to be quiet going up, as I dispensed vitamins and refilled milk cups and put two food pellets in each girl's hand to feed Rainbow Fireworks Sally the boy fish, L reminded me at each turn: remember, Mama, no kisses on me. No yucky kisses. Your kisses are yucky, Mama.
I sat on the floor of L's room and E came in and I squeezed the toothpaste on her toothbrush and E left and L disrobed and got her pull-up on for bed and faked getting into her pajamas and suddenly she leaped into my arms--
and I didn't kiss her because I know she misses her daddy but I breathed in her neck as she tangled her arms over my shoulders and in my hair and I wrapped my arms around the soft skin of her back and my fingers found her belly and I rubbed and we rocked and I squeezed and I held and for a moment, there was no time--
just a baby who wanted to reach for my love, even though she wouldn't ever admit it.