The fabric of the hot pink and white polka dot ruffles bunched up in the palms of my hands. Pale yellow curls pushed through the top of her dress. One curl wound itself around a pink button so I looped my finger into her hair to finagle it free. Meghan shimmied the rest of her party dress down toward her knees, and I closed two buttons near her neck.
"Please sit down Meghan, and I'll help you with your tights."
She spun around, grabbed her child size chair, and took a seat. I rolled one leg of the tights inside my hand so I could slide it onto her leg. As it always happens, Meghan flexed her foot and the progression of the tights came to a halt.
"Meghan, please point your toes honey." She complied, but as I finished pulling up her tights, she broke free from my hands.
She gleefully exclaimed, "Tada! I'm weady for Kafaleen's (Kathleen's) birfday party."
"Hold on Meghan. You need to put your shoes on."
"Oh, okay Mommy. I'm gonna put my pretty black shoes on. Kafaleen likes my special black shoes." Pure joy and anticipation exuded from her. I found it hard not to smile. Her excitement was palpable, and today would be a milestone for her. She had never been invited to a friend's birthday party before, and today was the day. For the last two weeks, Meghan had asked me if it was Kafaleen's birfday party.
She had trouble containing her excitement and I had to remind her to keep her voice down. Gracie helped by temporarily distracting her with two helium filled balloons. They took turns jumping toward the ceiling to grab the red and green balloons as Charlie finished wrapping Kafaleen's gift.
I pulled my own shirt down over my head, and pulled my hair out from under the shirt. Meghan and Grace's muffled grunts and shrieks as they leaped toward their balloons filled my ears. I slipped my brown loafers on my feet, and glanced in the mirror to make sure I was sufficiently put together.
Charlie's voice exclaimed, "Okay girls. It is time to go. We'll get our coats on while Mommy finishes up."
"Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! It's time ta go. It's time to go ta Kafaleen's party."
Both girls sprinted down the stairs toward our front hall closet. I was close behind them, and followed them down our sidewalk toward the garage. We were headed to Gymboree at the mall. None of us had ever been there before so we all didn't know what to expect, but I did inform Meghan that she'd get to run and play during the party.
Meghan shrieked, "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!"
We arrived at the mall, and walked toward Gymboree. It was a typical March day here in Wisconsin. The sky was overcast, and the snow was finally beginning to melt away. Unfortunately, the residue of the snow coated the sidewalk with mud and gunk. We navigated around the muddy puddles. Meghan's pink and white polka dots bounced as she trotted to keep up with my adult sized stride. She firmly gripped my hand as I pulled the handle on the glass door.
Upon entering, Meghan's face lit up. I could tell it was better than she ever thought it would be. Kathleen said, "Meghan's here. Meghan's here."
A large smile erupted across Meghan's face, and she darted toward Kathleen and her mother inside the play area. Kathleen grabbed Meghan's hand, and they ran off to play together.
Charlie said while laughing, "She's ready to play."
Grace's eyes panned the room, and a pout emerged on her face. I could tell she wanted to play too so I reminded her that we'd be going shopping for some new pajamas. Grace sighed deeply as we walked toward the door.
I glanced behind me and said, "Bye Meghan!"
She lifted her head, found the location of my voice, and blew me a kiss. This mother's heart melted a bit more as I internally acknowledged that my last baby was no longer a baby.