Three years ago, my daughter and I moved into our current home. There is one particular night in January I remember quite well.
The night was colder than most. My new bed and bedding had arrived. I couldn’t wait to sleep in it.
On my way home from work, I picked up my daughter from a friend's house. I scurried home to make us dinner and help her finish her homework. Those chores done, I bathed her and snuggled with her as we read a bedtime story.
It was about 9:30 p.m. when my night started. I made the conscious decision not to go on line, no logging on Facebook or Twitter, no instant messaging, no reading and definitely no writing! I needed to decompress, so I watched the continuing media coverage on the presidential inaugural. Don't ask. The week felt long and it was only Tuesday.
My bed was calling my name and I couldn’t wait to answer. Eventually, I made my way upstairs and into it.
It wasn’t 15 minutes later when I heard stomping around on my rooftop, thunderous and pounding.
A prowler? I was frozen with fear. My baby woke up from the noise too.
“Mommy, Mommy!” she yelled out in a sleepy but petrified voice.
“I’m here, my angel face!”
“Did you hear that, Mommy?”
“I sure did, baby!” I exclaimed, with fraudulent courage.
The noise grew louder and scarier. My little girl scrambled furiously atop my bed and into my arms.
I called my new next-door neighbor four times. Four! First on his mobile, then on his home phone, then again on his mobile and home phones, until he finally answered. “I’m sleeping,” he groaned, annoyed.
Clearly he didn't hear a thing and, obviously, this didn't ease my worried mind. I dialed 911.
The gentle voice of a strange man patiently talked with me as helicopters and police arrived—while a shining beam of light as bright as Luke Skywalker’s light saber illuminated my bedroom.
As we heard more footsteps scurrying about, boisterous voices and officers' batons clanging on the chain-link fence as they checked the perimeter of our building (provoking even more fear) my little girl pierced my heart with her incredibly round, bright, compassionate and tear filled green eyes…
Turned out the officers didn't find anybody on our roof. I'm grateful for their appearance on the scene. We'll never know what was making that noise.
“Mommy, when I’m at Daddy’s, who’s here with you when there are elephants on our roof?”
My mouth agape, hands perspiring, eyes welling, I was rendered speechless as her hand reached for my face. I turned to wipe one streaming tear as I took a deep breath to respond.
“My Mommy is here with me, in my pocket, just like I am there with you when I’m not there in person. Don’t worry about me, baby girl, I am never alone."
She cocked her head and said, “Kind of like when I take your favorite lip gloss when I go to Daddy’s even though I know you’ll be mad?”
We shared a lighthearted laugh, a mutual understanding of sorts as the commotion died down. We kissed good night.
There is a fine line between truth and reality. And as our children mature, they feel the difference in spite of our words. I often wonder if I am any different from any of you as I struggle to find strength to protect my child while searching for it myself?
My daughter is going to be 9 years old in just a few days. She has grown in leaps and bounds—so fast and in such a short time.
The other day I dropped her off at her best friend’s house for a sleepover. She gave me one of those half-hug deals like she couldn’t be bothered, then ran toward her friend’s front door.
I sat for a moment and relished in her independence and yet stewed in it as well.
I threw my car into drive. Then I heard, “Wait, Mommy, wait!”
I rolled down the window as she practically jumped through it.
“Just in case there are elephants on the roof tonight, remember I’m in your pocket,” she said.
Parenting: While challenging, it's so very rewarding.