An ice cube melts into the bowl of oatmeal I am stirring with my left hand while I scoop Lily up in my right arm.
“Okay, sweetie, time for breakfast,” I tell her as I sprinkle a few strawberries atop the bowl of now tepid oatmeal and walk with her, the bowl, a spoon and bib over to her high chair.
“I want to sit in mommy’s lap,” Lily says.
I take a deep breath as I look over to the clock and calculate the 25 minutes we have before we need to be out the door this morning.
I change course from the high chair to the bench at the dining table. I sit down and place Lily on my lap. She smiles as she helps me adjust her bib. She then grabs the spoon, digging up her first warm bit of “bweakfast.”
Inhaling deep into my belly, I let go of time for a moment and watch my 25-month old daughter feed herself with contentment.
I start to go over today’s schedule.
“Now, we are having breakfast together. And then, we’re going to see Lala (her nanny). And Lala will take you to music class …”
“Mommy go bye, bye?” Lily interjects.
My heart sinks. Her simple request for clarification in the day’s steps taps the tender spot in my heart that questions taking time for myself to work and exercise.
“Yes, sweetie, mommy will go bye, bye when we get to Lala’s house. And then you will go to music class and take a nap and then mommy will be back.”
Lily is now gazing out over the bowl of warm oatmeal, processing.
“Mommy no go bye, bye?” she responds.
“I’m sorry honey. I will miss you and I always come back. And I need to go bye bye for a little bit today.”
She stares and processes a bit more. She goes back to her oatmeal, spooning in another mouthful.
We are quiet. Then, Lily breaks the silence.
“I play with the toys at Lala’s house today. And mommy comes back.”
“Yes, sweetie. You will play and sing and nap. And then, mommy comes back.”