I thrive on the wiping of sticky mouths, the scooting of chairs up closer to the table to avoid falling dribblets, the serving and cutting of food for little fingers, the keeping watch over tiny sleeping bodies, the fixing of ponytails and snuggles after naptime...
But there are times when caring for these little ones is not so simple.
Her mother finally out of jail, "I loved her but then she left again," Cheerleader tells me; little bobbed haircut, full cheeks, and a matter-of-fact affirmative nod.
Miss Picasso spent yesterday with us, then spent the evening and entire night at another daycare facility, all day today with us, and then picked up in the afternoon once again by the others. Thirty~six hours is a long time for a three year~old to be without mommy and she clings to me and cries, the man who is to pick her up embarrassed. But the man who helped give her life doesn't see the light of day and spends his days in an orange jumpsuit.
She draws a picture of two figures, "Miss Leah and Me."
Legal issues and custody battles play out with Muffin today. Dad shows up unannounced without mom's permission. Mom rolls in with her entourage, next the police. I can see the escalating conflict through the window. Muffin is two and she's agitated and confused.
At naptime I lay between two floor cots and stare at the ceiling. I think, We are all of us up against something ~ we will all face trials in this life, but for these children their trials begin over a decade before mine did.
::Calm us, Lord, as you calmed the storm.::
Fireball falls asleep nestled perfectly in the crook of my arm as I pat Little Ducky's back...
...and for a moment they are mine, and we rest.