It's 7:30, and the girls are soft and warm and smell like strawberry shampoo. I want to finish our good-night routine quickly, because the play-area looks like someone ate all of the toys and then threw them up in violent, patternless heaves (I think that is the most vile metaphor that I have ever come up with! Yay me!) and the kitchen was dirty from the kids' dinner and spotless from the one I intended to make for Outdoorsman and me.
I tousled the nearest damp head of hair, blew kisses, and edged to the door. Then, from the larger damp head--
"Ima, how do babies get into Imas' bellies?"
So many things flew into my head. A few of them: dinner would be late, and the house woul be messy. And, Princess! You are three! I thought that I had, I dunno, 18 more years or so before I had to answer The Question. And, I better answer her, because my face looks scary right now. Also that I will never be able to calculate square roots in my head, but that doesn't make me any less valuable as a person.
So I said, (truthfully, though kind of leaving out the technical realities,) "G-d puts a tiny tiny seed into the Ima's belly, and it grows into a baby." Then I sat down, because I knew all sorts of questions were going to come exploding out of Princess' inquisitive mind.
"How big is the seed?"
"Does it go in from the front or the back?"
"Does G-d have to cut the Ima open to put the seed in?"
Ouch. "Nope, it's so tiny, it slips right in!" If she asks through where, and I say through the belly button, does that make me a bad person?--
"And then it gets bigger and bigger?"
Phew. "Yes, it gets bigger and bigger, until its ready to come out."
"Oh!" She sits up in bed, and grabs my hand. "That's why I have to eat good food with protien, so that I will get big and have a baby inside my belly, and then the baby could get bigger and bigger?"
Good explanation as any. "Uh huh!"
She's quiet. Then, "Does uh huh mean yes?"
"Uh huh. I mean, yes."
"Then I will go to the hospital and they will name my baby? When I am big and old and full of baby?"
OMG. "No, Princess, you name the baby all by yourself."
"Ima!" She is wide-eyed, and squeezes my hand. "You have to help me!"
"Oh, Princess." I feel my eyes filling with tears. "I'll help you however I can."
I hug her, and lie her back down, first turning her pillow over to the dry, cool side. Then I give her a kiss on her forehead, and head for the door. The kitchen is beckoning.
"Ima, how old will I be when you stop being my Ima?"
In two steps, I cross back over to her bed. (Not really an accomplishment; the room is the size of a larg-ish shower stall.)
"I will never be old enough to be too old to be your Ima."A complicated sentence, but she gets it.
I get it, too.
I need to sit on their beds, hold them tight, read to them, listen to them. Dinners and clean living rooms are not the things that will be remembered.