I never imagined that I would do things perfectly, shoot, I based the beginning of a novel on how very not perfect I was. I did imagine that I would do things with intent, that I would always have the presence of mind to choose one way over another.

I swore back when we first had Briar that I would forgive myself not being a scrapbooker, that I would commemorate things in my own way and, one that would not trip me up with requirements of ribbons or rubber glue. (I also swore that I would never…well, let’s just say doing is a lot different than planning, isn’t it?) I cringe a bit reading back through those old posts, but through the hiccups in punctuation and lapses in grammar I am transported to a new mom at 31, to first words and Christmas mornings. The intention behind it has more than served its purpose, but today I got an old fashioned splash of cold water to the face about intention.

Finley, my bubbly and dazzling baby, just a few weeks shy of her second birthday, is giving nature a run for its blossoming money. She has begun to talk in grand sentences that can run from somber to sensational. She runs to me clutching my beaded, black clutch, her chest heaving and eyes dancing, “Mama, I go to Paris. I go now, you be ok.” These explosive declarations are accented by emphatic nodding, earnest winks and throaty, “uh-huhs” and “yes, yes really really really today.”

I am awed by her advances, so today, when she touched my arm and cocked her head I took note.

“Mom’n’dad…mom and dad. Mom?” She paused, caught.

“Yes, baby?” I said.

“Mom’n’dad. Uh-Mom’n. Dad. Mom,” she pressed her hand harder, I waited, knowing that she would not go on until she said my name alone.

“Mom. Mom?” I smiled and nodded. “Mom, you and me, me Finley, go to crayground- playground, in a, on walk. Me in the blue stroller and go on slide together, today please, please, please?” She worked hard on each and every syllable, repeating when it wasn’t just right and making exaggerated expressions to get the sound just so. I was exhausted for her, but her smile was contagious.

“Sure, we’ll go to the park.”

“Oh, mom,” she cupped my face in her little hands, pressed her nose to mine and said, “I am so eck-e-sited. Yes, I am.”

The last 2 1/2 years rushed past my face, from discovering we were having another baby to finally pushing her from my body. I remembered those early months and the jockeying for position as everyone adapted to a being a family of five. We have worked hard, often with intention— alone time for each daughter, activities for sisters to share, managing to carry, cuddle or sing to all 3 at once.

Sometimes I get hung up on the trying, or the failing, when I should approach it like Fin— try until I get it and then, when I’ve cleared the hurdle, rather than counting how many tries it took, I should get excited about finishing or about getting better.

Oh, my sweet Fin, teaching your mama to know that it’s the steps, one after another that matter, rather than the actual distance of each step. You are my momentum and my motivation.

So eck-e-cited.