When the doorbell rings this morning, the four of us--the kids, the pup, and I--enter a frenzy of activity at the front door. Ben and Abby fasten shoes and gather coats and bags, and I wrangle Merlot away from the door so they can get past without being trampled by an exuberant puppy desperate to greet the mom who drives the Tuesday morning carpool shift. I hold Merlot's collar, her front paws swimming wildly through the air in desperate attempts to propel herself out the door, and the kids slide out. When the door closes and I release her collar, Merlot sits placidly, empty of all trace of our epic struggle. I roll my eyes.
I don't dare open the door again, so I look instead through the window to make sure the kids get in the car without a sudden realization that someone has forgotten a backpack or lunch or library book or other necessity. What I see, though, is Abby standing in the driveway, unmoving. She's looking at me with an impish smirk. I brace myself for whatever assertion of will this three-and-a-half-year-old darling may throw down at 8:30 a.m.
When she catches my eye, however, she waves at me and, smiling, shouts, "Bye, Mommy!" before turning to the car and skipping off for her morning. It happens in a second. And I pause, right there, waving and smiling back, to give thanks for these little people whom I love.