Sometime last week, I realized that while Brian would be flying out for China really early Sunday morning and I wouldn't get to see him on Sunday, that didn't necessarily mean that I couldn't see Rachael. I debated about whether or not to ask if I could have Rachael for a few hours, but finally my desire to spend time with Rachael overruled my hesitancy to ask. I think I knew Brian would say yes, but it was kind of a big deal! So I texted Brian and asked if I could have Rachael for a few hours on Sunday to do something special with her... and he said yes!
Rachael is seriously the sweetest little girl I've ever known. She's is extremely affectionate and funny and smart and adorable... and while all of that is certainly true, I'm also beginning to realize that I have a strongly biased opinion regarding Rachael's wonderfulness. She is a very special little girl and I love her very very very much.
I hung around for a few minutes and talked to Mary and Betty Jo while Rachael played, then took her home (to Brian's) and waited for Daddy to call us before he got on the plane to China. Rachael got to talk to Daddy for a minute and then I gave her a bath and let her play while I tried to keep myself occupied so I wouldn't cry about the fact that our favorite guy was on his way around the world. So, while Rachael played, I picked up her toys and did a load of laundry. Then I got Rachael out of the bathtub, put lotion on her, got her dressed, etc. You know, all the normal stuff. Rachael is a girly girl and I brought nail polish to paint her nails for her, so I did that... and like me, she can't seem to keep it on her fingers very long... except she has the excuse of being 3. I don't know what my excuse is. :) But she enjoyed it and that's what matters.
Finally, I selected a few and let her pick from among those and she chose my favorite book by my favorite children's author! Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems. I was very surprised that she didn't choose The Pout-Pout Fish. I thought it was a really cute book. I was excited that she chose Knuffle Bunny.
Rachael was so sweet and thoughtful. She kept seeing things that K or Z would like. I told her that next time, we would get a surprise for K and Z to take back to them.
She was hungry and requested macaroni and cheese, so when we left B&N I saw the Jason's Deli in the parking lot so I decided that a salad sounded great to me and that she could have her mac & cheese. Rachael chatted with me while we ate and it was so fun to be with her and have people walk by and comment on how cute she is. :) I think I'm going to have to work on saying "thank you" instead of "I know, right?!" While we were sitting there, I noticed that she had her little legs crossed under the table. Cutest. EVER.
The waiter walked by and asked me something and ended the question with "maybe". Rachael thought he called me "baby" so we had the following conversation.
Rachael: Why did he call you "baby"? (or maybe it was "he called you baby.")
Me: He didn't. He said, "Would you like another salad plate, maybe?" Only Daddy calls me "baby."
Me: Because I'm his girlfriend.
Rachael: No you're not. (Said in a "silly girl... no you're not" kind of way.)
[Rachael starts talking about Batman and his girlfriend again.]
Me: If I'm not Daddy's girlfriend, what am I?
Rachael: You're Daddy's little big girl. And I'm Daddy's little baby fishy.
I had her repeat it for me on video for Brian. I've been upgraded from "normal peoples" to "Daddy's little big girl." She has probably heard Brian call me his "big baby" and her his "little baby" or refer to us as his girls, little girl and big girl, etc, because he often says that. More than calling me his girlfriend. We're thinking that "girlfriend" is a cartoon character to Rachael and that her only point of reference is batman. Rachael doesn't realize yet that "girlfriend" is a relationship. I love that she's so sweet and innocent.
I let Rachael get a little ice cream after we finished eating. She thoroughly enjoyed her treat. Sadly, I had to take her back to Jo's house because I had to head back to Tennessee. We had a really great ride back in the car though!! She sang zipadeedoodah, which was ADORABLE! We chatted about Daddy and China. We sang Apples and Bananas and giggled over the silly ways of saying "apples" and "bananas" and made up our own words.
We got back home and I was in Rachael's room getting a few of her things together to take to Jo's house and I was going to re-braid her hair. She sat down in my lap and wrapped her arms around my neck and wouldn't let go. She just wanted me to hold her and hug her; I was MORE than happy to oblige. When I took her over to Jo's she hugged me and kissed me and told me she would miss me and that she didn't want me to go. I didn't want to go either! I was glad when she started playing so I could leave without having to pull her off of me first. Leaving was hard enough as it was! I almost cried.
I think Rachael is trying to figure out exactly what my role in her life is and what place she wants me to hold. She's is extremely well-behaved, but I could tell at times that she was testing the boundaries a little to find where they stood. She didn't misbehave AT ALL, it was just obvious that she was figuring out where the lines are and what my response would be.
Rachael is such a gift. I am so thankful that God chose me, not just to be in Brian's life, but to play a part in Rachael's life as well. Rachael is one of the greatest blessings that God has ever given me. To have the privilege of taking care of her, loving her, being responsible for her, being loved by her... and helping to guide her through life and prepare her for eternal life... it's a gift.
I am so thankful that her mom gave birth to her. I think the mom/ step-mom/ ex-wife/girlfriend(eventually wife) relationship can be a complicated one and I hope to avoid some of those complications... or at least ill-feelings on my side of things by always maintaining the perspective that one of the greatest gifts in my life came from H. Without her, I wouldn't have the joy of Rachael in my life. Loving Rachael warms my heart toward H. I can't and do not want to ever replace Rachael's mom; she is special. But I am very much looking forward to our relationship (mine and Rachael's, and growing as a family with Brian) continuing to grow so that one day Rachael will feel like she has been blessed with, not just one, but two mommies who both love her very much. I don't ever want this to be a competition for Rachael's love and affection -- she has plenty to go around. I just want Rachael to be the happiest and most secure little girl in the world knowing that she has the love of a VERY wonderful Daddy and double mommy-love.