There have been two things I have secretly ached for since snatching our girl up in our arms nearly 6 weeks ago, three if you count an hour to myself.  I long to hear her voice calling my name.  For now, she is silent, but that’s ok.  Her one Cantonese word has been joined with repeated syllables like mamamama, which I know from experience will morph into words which will pick up meaning as they roll along and will, in short time I’m sure, give birth to a whole vocabulary.  But the only word I care about is Mama and hearing it from her lips and knowing she really gets that I am mama.  The other thing I’ve longed for is a kiss.  I took for granted that she would know how to do this.  And a million other things that my biological children have just known.  Like crawling away from me when I roar like a bear and say I’m going to get them.  Maggie just stares.  Or like peek a boo.  Maggie does this now, but it took hours of showing her.  Hours that left me hating it and resenting the idiot who invented this stupid game.  But she does it now and we clap as if she’s just solved a complicated mathematical algorithm.  Because she sort of has.  All these games are completely foreign to a baby who has grown up in survival mode.  And while it makes me ache, it makes the small gains all the sweeter.
Like our first kiss this week.  Dan and I have been showing her.  Over and over.  He loves this.  Maggie, look at daddy and mama…kiss.  And then Tuesday Tess weaseled a first kiss out of her.  Asked for it and then we all watched as Maggie pursed her bottom lip and leaned it to plant a soundless kiss on Tess.  And we cheered like she’s scored a touchdown.  All six of us who have cheered for each teeny step and will for her whole life.  We stood in the parking lot of Noodles and made total idiots of ourselves because that’s what family does.  But it wasn’t until the next day that I got mine.  And I stood and cried as I thanked Father for this sign that we are breaking through.  Never has a kiss felt so hard won, nor so sweet.  I never had to teach my Smalls how to kiss; it’s a language they spoke from their earliest.  But this baby, she just learned to speak it and it is my favorite dialect, the kiss.
This mama, she will wait for her name, specially since there are other Smalls wearing it out on these full summer days.  Because the kiss will tide me over until Maggie’s mouth can bear witness to what her heart is telling her: that I am mama and I am forever.  Until then there is Peter bringing a friend home and wanting to show him Maggie first of all and there is Grant making her belly laugh from the bedroom and there are quiet mornings while I read my Bible and wait to see my baby come crawling down the long hallway, sleep marks still on her face, while her sibs sleep in or snuggle me on the couch, rubbing sleep from their eyes.  These are sweet days and while, I spend at least part of them being totally overwhelmed, I am rejoicing that we are together and learning to be a family.  And teaching this girl that she is part of it.
This is me being real.  And wishing our bags would pack themselves for our week at the Sugar cottage because we leave tomorrow and we are no where near ready.  Sigh.

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