Tomorrow Amy turns seven. It seems like a big leap; a cuspy age, bridging the gap between small child and big child, without leaving much wiggle room.
The house is quiet, but I’m sure if I wander down the hall, Amy will be awake in her bed, unable to fall asleep. It’s a hard time to be a child, on the night before your birthday or Christmas. There’s so much anticipatory adrenaline that sleep won’t come.
I remember one Christmas Eve, lying in bed, listening to my parents blow up balloons and talk about plans for the coming day. I scrunched my eyes closed. I changed position. I counted sheep. Nothing worked and I could not sleep. Later, when I did sleep, it was fitful, filled with half formed dreams and a sense of urgency.
It’s when I sit here, in my almost silent house, waiting for Amy to sleep, that I wish I’d had the foresight to wrap all of her presents a week ago. I’m tired, everything is scattered and hidden everywhere and I just want to go to bed, and yet, I’m typing this and waiting waiting waiting for everything to come together.
In the morning, she will awake to find a pile of pretty presents awaiting her. I’ll hide the impatiently wrapped ones on the bottom and she won’t care, the excitement of her birthday will cover any sticky-tape mistakes I make.
Last year, as she turned six, I slept in a hospital bed beside Evelyn, waiting tests and results, stretched paper thin as the new motherhood of three children tore me in different directions. It was a hard time, and we were all poorer for it.
This year, we will all be under the same roof, and that makes up for everything. We will eat cake, and bat balloons around, and let Evelyn eat the wrapping paper. There will be laughter and shrieking and it will be the very best kind of chaos.
For tomorow, Amy turns seven.