For the love of a child

Katie realized, in a particularly tough moment, that her definition of love changed when Soph arrived on the scene.

Katie Dupuis 0

Soph.

I like to think I’m a fairly thoughtful person. I have birthdays programmed into my calendar to prompt me to send an email or make a phone call; I still send snail mail when I have time, because I know how lovely it is to receive a card or package in the post; I have been known to organize a good surprise party or special outing from time to time; and my friends and family know that they can call me if they need me, any time, night or day. When I love someone, I try to remind them as often as possible, in whatever small way I can manage. I do my best to maintain relationships and, as a result, am lucky enough to have a few friendships that are now more than two decades old.

I’m telling you this so you understand I’m no stranger to dropping everything for a friend. Now, imagine my shock when I realized that what I would do for Soph trumps everything I’ve ever done for anyone, ever.

I was thinking about this in my 60th lap around our bedroom the other night. We’d just arrived home from Elliot Lake and she was tired, cranky and off-schedule. She’d fall asleep for a few minutes but then wake up frustrated and screaming. Blaine and I took turns shushing and pacing (which we haven’t really had to do in months), and, when her eyes closed, we’d gently lay her in the crib. As soon as her little head hit the mattress, those eyes would snap open and we’d have to start again. Finally I realized that this kid had been out of her routine for a few days, had spent too much time in her car seat and was too wired to calm herself. We needed a little dedication to the cause. I turned on her little aquarium music box (sans flashing lights that make her crib look like an 80s disco), sent Blaine upstairs to start dinner and Soph and I walked. I bounced and jiggled and sort of salsa-ed for almost 40 minutes. She’d closed her eyes after 20, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I did 120 slow laps around our bedroom while I waited for the music to run through its song selection and for that familiar heaviness of a sleeping baby to kick in.

For the back half of the laps, I thought about the past eight months. The number of dirty diapers, please-go-to-sleep car rides, doctor’s appointments, books read, songs sung — you know what I mean. And while I know there were frustrating, infuriating moments in there, I kinda don’t remember them. Because I would do anything for this kid. By the 80th lap around the room, I was ignoring the kink in my neck and thinking about the years ahead, when she’ll inevitably get the flu, fail a test, get teased, lose a friend and have her heart broken, among so many other things. She’ll have terrible days, even terrible years. And while I want to shield her from all of that, instead I know that I will bring her flat ginger ale and toast, get her a tutor and help her make a study schedule, make secret calls to her teacher to talk about the teasing (thanks, Mom) and hold her while she cries. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I know that it doesn’t matter how much time she needs or what else I’m doing — I will coming running without a second thought.

My mom told me that the love would be all-encompassing but I don’t know that I really understood until I held her in my arms. And I don’t know that I’d really had time to think about it yet. But as my girl finally relaxed into me and I looked down at that tiny face (one hand like a vice on my necklace, the other flush against her soother should anyone try to take it away), my heart nearly burst all over the bedroom. She gets everything. It’s as easy as that.

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