My big little girl had an epic meltdown today. In the library. The kind that had me trying to pick her up (with the little girl in the backpack) without getting kicked to hustle her out of there. The kind that threatened to become what the whole day looked like, even though it lasted maybe 20 minutes.
I finally got her outside, where our lovely, tiny farmers market was going on. There was a string band playing and people hula hooping and green all around. The river burbled past behind a wrought iron fence. All I could think about was the struggle to get back to the car.
She wasn't ready to leave and I wasn't ready to push her, so I got out snacks for both of them and let them roam. She continued to test me, doing exactly what I asked her not to do until I finally got a the little girl screaming back in to the back pack, grabbed my bags, and corralled the big girl.
"Do you want a massage?"
I looked at the chair longingly. "That would be great, but . . . " I trailed off waving at the kids.
"Oh, they'll be fine." She asked if was okay to give them as snack, one of the breads from one of the booths.
I nodded, shrugged off the backpack.
"I saw you with that backpack and thought, she needs a massage." (Did she also see the desperation in my eyes? The how am I going to make it through bedtime look?)
I sat on the chair, pocketed my glasses and leaned into the headrest. She kept talking to my kids, so I trusted the were still there, close enough to reach. I just settled in and let go. At one point I felt tears welling deep within me and breathed through them. I don't know if they were the post-birthday release or the muscle memory of being massaged after Henry died or simply the sheer kindness of taking care of myself for two minutes.
I could have sat there for hours, but those few minutes reset me somehow. Even with the backpack back on I felt lighter. I smiled at Kathleen and thanked her for her patience and for sharing with sister and from keeping her calm.
Walking down the stairs after reading and singing and tucking them in, I felt the weight of that meltdown still holding down my day, but I was able to put it aside and see the cool, dry sunshine on the grass by the river. I was able to remember the four perfect red strawberries we picked from our garden this afternoon and Kathleen's wide eyes and Yummy! I let in the snuggles and stories on the couch with my girls in jammies and found my way back to the golden, molten sun behind the pines, the broad rays stretching between the branches as the morning mist slowly faded away as I walked and walked and walked with the little girl and her blankie just because we were both up and the world was quiet.
Twenty minutes almost stole my day, but those precious two gave it all back to me.