"Mommy! Meeneewoo!" she shouts up the stairs to me. Though the relentless calls of "Mommy!" that plague me throughout the day typically have a grating effect, there is something about her little voice calling, labeling, claiming me that makes me melt. I love the quick staccato of the first "M"and the way its sound lengthens in proportion to her need and patience. Her voice still sounds half baby, half Ewok, half tiny caveman... though that makes three halves. Yes, I'm aware it makes no mathematical sense. Deal.
"Meeeeneeeeeeewoooooo!" I hear again as her footsteps patter up the stairs. I wonder what she is trying to say. Deciphering her word approximations have been something at which I've become quite adept. After three months of speech therapy for her Dysarthria (low oral-motor muscle tone resulting in poor articulation) her word output has increased immensely but she still speaks in chopped off words, mostly vowels. I need context for most of it. Context is key, and I've got nothing.
I meet her on the staircase. My little Rella - half-dressed, barefoot, shock of blond hair perpetually hanging in her face. Her piercing blue eyes plead to me as she nestles in my arms. Her breath is sweet in my face as I hold her and ask "What is it?"
Me Nee Woo.
The wheels turn.
Me Nee Woo...
Me Need You...
I Need You.
"You need me?" I ask.
"Ya..." which is Swedish Caveman for Yes and I love it and hope she never learns how to articulate "Yes" properly because I will mourn the loss of her itty bitty "Ya."
I just...just... LOVE HER!
Much of my reference to Rella has to do with her trouble-making and fiery spirit, her daily antics, her willfulness and her sneaky, "baby destructo" nature. These things are true: She's a stubborn mule, a typical "Terrible Two," a climber, an instigator, and a loaded pistol who outgrew naps at 20 months old. However, there is more to Rella and more to me and Rella. Her zany antics are only one facet of my littlest girl.
I knew there would be a Rella even before I gave birth to my third. There would be a fourth child... not knowing boy or girl, only knowing our family would not be complete until the soul that circled us, watching and waiting, landed in my womb and claimed her spot in the family. I always knew there would be a Rella.
She was the only one who did not surprise me. With Rella, although I was entirely asymptomatic of any pregnancy signs, I just knew. I peed on the stick for no other reason than confirmation of what I already knew. She was there - instead of circling around me, inside of me. On the day she came into the world, we heard her little muffled cries before she was even birthed... as she was just crowning. She cried, softly. She couldn't wait to leave her dark water-world and pounce into the light of an awaiting family.
Me Nee Woo too little girl. You're my last baby. As you grow I pack up the tiny clothes I have held on to for 15 years, passing them down and down and down again. They are so familiar, I'm grieved to say goodbye to the tiny onesies, the shirt sleeves, the faded pajamas with worn feet that smell faintly of Dreft.
Your torso lengthens and your cheeks loose their pudge but I still see glimpses of your babyhood. The silkiness of your skin. The last hints of that intoxicating "baby" smell. The paper thin finger nails. The fine silken hair, yet to be cut. The way your body molds to mine in a hug. I savor all these things in the last moments before they fade completely and forever.
Mee nee woo too. In the way you want only me in the morning. The way you purse your sweet lips when you speak. The way throw your whole body into your run. The way you know your own mind and claim your own space and love each one of us with abandon. I need the moments where I fall into your eyes - eyes that are not clear blue or grey blue or ice blue or sky blue. They're the blue of the deepest most vibrant aquamarine. The water of the photoshopped beaches with the white sand and piercingly crystal blue seas. Intense and deep. At times almost glowing, bewitching.
Mee Nee Woo too for everything you are. The whirling dervish, the curious monkey, the sweet scented baby, the uncatchable toddler, the cuddly cake, the last daughter who will never be last for anything. You complete our family. You give my heart shelter. You keep me young. You are vivacious and infectious, sweet and strong, and loved, loved, loved. I'll always be here whenever woo nee me.