I woke up at 6:30 and was still rushing to get out of the front door by 8:30. We had a 15 minute drive ahead of us to make the bus for the pumpkin patch, our lunches were packed, and Buttercup was sitting pretty on the couch watching TV while I rushed into the bathroom to pull my mexi-fro into a pony tail. I glanced at the clock as I walked by. It was 8:15. We were going to cut it close, but we would make it.
I had just put my head in the sink for a quick wet down when I heard Buttercup call me from the living room.
“Mama, I’m making myself beautiful now,” she sang out.
I turned the faucet off and hurried back to the living room on high alert, already knowing what I was going to find. Buttercup had been dressed for hours, her curls pulled into a little pony of her own, since 7 that morning. “Are you excited for your first field trip?” and “Don’t mess up your hair,” had been repeated on a loop from the moment I declared Buttercup adorable and ready to go. We’d been late for pre-school too many times because I’d turn around to pack her lunch only to come back to the little stinker leaning over the sofa rubbing her head into the cushion, fro-ing out her previously ballerina-worthy top knot. I had ten minutes on the clock and my kid was going at the couch with her head like most cats use a scratching post.
“Dammit,” I sighed. “M’ijita! Why’d you go and mess up your pelo? We’re gonna be late now!”
Her face fell. “But I made it beautiful,” she said, reaching up to touch her crown of fuzz.
“Just sit down, I’ll be right back to fix it in a second.” And I hurried back into the bathroom and back with hair products and a brush, and sat Buttercup down to fix her fro, my own still dripping and out of control.
“Yes, baby?” I had one eye on her hair and the other on the clock. I had five minutes to get us out the door.
“I was just trying to make it beautiful.” Her words were a mere whisper.
“I know, babe,” I said. “I know.”
She turned to face me, reaching up to smooth the kinky spirals I’d cut, straightened, and hid under weaves (which I in turn denied were weaves) because I was so determined to keep my hair from being the conversation starter with strangers that always ended with me explaining that yes, indeed, i was Mexican and not mixed. “I was just trying to make my hair beautiful, like yours.”
She thinks my hair is beautiful…
My breath caught in my throat and I kissed her hard. “Mama loves you, baby. Mama loves you more than you’ll ever know.”
She stood there smiling while I hurried to smooth my hair back into the world’s fastest pony-tail and we dashed out the door. I hadn’t bothered to check the mirror.
I didn’t have to. I had already seen my reflection in my daughter’s eyes.