Today as I was walking out the door from dropping the girls at the sitter, I turned to give Avery one more smile and “I love you.” I do this more for me than for her, or maybe I do it more for her, but I end up getting more from it. Is that the same thing? She was in Jen’s arms. Her pony tail was cock eyed and one sock was already misshapen and destined for a dark corner as she has pulled it off her foot and gummed it a dozen times before we even left the house. She shimmied up Jen’s torso to see me better. I waved and mouthed “I love you.” She smiled, her eyes beating her mouth as they always do, an expression of joy that starts between her eyebrows and fans out in a showy explosion of sparkles and dimples. I felt the flutter in my stomach that before the girls was reserved for the moments Sean sang or looked at me in a certain way. She’s mine and she loves me. And, oh my god she’s waving to me, I thought. I waved back with what had to have been a very goofy grin on my face as large tears ran down my face.

I quite nearly floated into work as I reveled in the exchange, the communication. My wave, her wave, our smiles, we were talking. Hot damn. And then, it hit me. She waved. That’s goodbye. I tried to calm myself with the rationalization that she was understanding that I could leave and come back. She could trust me to return, that or she was happy as shit that I was finally going. I typed through the morning in a kind of fog. First a wave, what’s next?

She’s been experimenting with sounds, mostly da-da, Ella, and something that sounded a heck of a lot like princess (Are you really going to saddle me with two princess hounds, oh great universe? Cause really, I’m fine with one frilly lovin’, pink needin’, tiara wearin’ lil miss thang.) And yes, she says something that sounds like mama, but as I’ve learned, it’s simply the best sound for making spit bubbles, sort of like yoga and “ohm”ing.

Once I got the girls home today I went about fixing snacks, nursing and then beginning the nap process, which I won’t go into here other than to say the transition from one child to two with regard to sleeping can be most effectively communicated by saying it’s a little like going from minute rice and butter to risotto and shitake mushrooms with a port wine reduction sauce and a delicate souffle, if that doesn’t sing for you, imagine counting on your fingers and then solve one of those crazy equations with numbers.

Anyway, Briar was finally down and Avery was uncharacteristically up. I set myself up on the loveseat to work while Avery played at my feet. I was typing away while she babbled and played. I was cranking stuff out and she was beyond content to sit, sockless, playing with my feet and listening to the echo of her voice against the wall. After about twenty minutes something happened. At first it seemed it might have been the sun passing by the window, but then I realized that it was coming from Avery. I wateched her. Something was making me watch her, really watch. She was looking down, but something about the top of her head was smiling. I could feel the strength of the smile I knew she had on her face, I could picture the dimples and the sheen on her lips. Then, she raised her head and looked at me. Not a second later she let out an overyjoyed exclamation and took a step. It was a wobbly step that ended with a none too gentle plopping down on her backside, but it was none the less, a step.

The morning’s wave came back in a heady rush. My sweet little baby waved and then almost walked today. Honestly, I’m a little bit dizzy from it all. The whole thing might have made me completley fall apart if I weren’t so anxious for her to be able to stand and really defend herself against the frequent Briar blasts. Though truth be told, this evening in the kitchen Briar started in on her and Avery, sitting on the floor, widened her legs and then gave Briar a pretty impressive shove. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t let out a “You show her, Avery” whoop. I have a feeling that some of the antics that make me wince are going to help pull me through some of the bittersweet milestones of the girls growing up.