When I pulled into the driveway the other night the Peanut was soundly asleep in her seat. I unbuckled her sister and took my bags in. I tried to shut the door as gently as possible, so as not to wake her. I wanted her to stay asleep. It had been so long since I had last carried her sleeping body into the house.
I got everyone situated and tiptoed back outside. I peeked into the window to stare at the little face, tilted to the side, still fast asleep. She looked so very much like the baby I used to hold. I opened the door and slipped off her shoes. I unbuckled her and hefted her onto my body. Her long legs dangled down my side. How did she get so very big?
She sighed and snuggled into my shoulder. I could feel her breath in my ear. I walked quietly into her bedroom, slipped off her jacket and tucked her in. I kissed her forehead and smiled. She will, of course, always be my baby, even if she is big.
I remember when I was 5 or 6 or 7. I remember the car pulling into the driveway when I was almost asleep, not quite awake. I remember closing my eyes and softening my face, making my breath slow and even. I wanted to be carried in, to have my jacket pulled off and be tucked softly into my bed. I thought then that it was a burden, that when my dad carried me in it was out of a sense of obligation. But it struck me last night that I wasn’t fooling anyone, that my dad wanted to carry me into the house and tuck me into my bed. That he saw it as a privilege, to love me well.