I’m tired and she’s tired. I’ve already put her to bed more than once tonight. She’s standing in the crib we brought with us back from South Africa. She’s standing on tippy toes with soft, chubby arms stretched out to me as far as she can lean.

She’s standing with eyes trained on the door and fingertips craning toward me.

I’ve washed the dishes. I’ve stacked the dishwasher. I’ve fed the dog. The boys are playing trucks with Peter who’s finally made it home through students and assignments and rush hour. I’ve asked him for an hour to decompress and am holed up on the yellow comforter in the back bedroom with only my laptop and pair of headphones for company.

She cries softly. She knows I’m close.

And when I pull back the slatted folding door and see those arms and those tippy toes and that look on her face I want to wrap my life around her.

I will always come, baby.

She’s in my arms and slowly beginning the ritual of stroking my right arm. Her curls are warm and sweaty and that pudgy baby cheek fits just under my chin.

I will always come.

I dance with her slowly – the rock and roll of motherhood – and I know this is a promise I can stake my life on.

I will always come.

When you forget your lunch. When you are sheep number 5 in the Christmas play. When you take up the recorder and bleat all the way through the Easter service. When you get that bad hair cut. When you think you want to be a beauty queen, when you swear off fashion altogether.

I will come.

When the mean girls make you want to shrivel inside your skin. When a teacher intimidates you. When you intimidate the teachers. When you think you can sing and try out for a musical, when you get laughed at and people point fingers at your hair and your shoes and your too bony hips.

My darling, I will come.

When that boy breaks your heart and you’re stranded at a college miles away, I will come. When the internship you thought was part of your calling falls through. When a friend gets sick. When the car crashes. When you have more long distance charges than you thought possible. When you run out of gas, chocolate chip cookies and faith.

I will be there.

When you say your “I do’s”, when you you start your happily ever afters, when none of it quite feels like you thought it would. When you don’t know how to pick a mattress, when the sofa is in the wrong place, when you regret what feels like signing your life away to someone else. When you keep on keeping on. When you remember how to say sorry. When you need a safe place to say how cliche you feel all “barefoot and pregnant” I will so be there.

When the baby won’t sleep and the world’s on fire with sleep exhaustion.

Sweetheart, I will come.

When your husband’s out of work. When you’re down to one car and have moved in with his in-laws. When your job threatens to break your heart. When toddlers make you question your sanity. When you realize that you’ve made the worst mistake a woman can make. When you’ve run out of tears and still the tears keeping coming.

I will come.

When you move and move and relocate again. When you pack boxes and dreams and hope. When your life is a world of duct tape and questions. I will still come.

And when your home is warm and your heart is full. When you’re at peace. When you need someone to share the joy, to watch the kids, to admire the dimples. When you want to remember that old recipe for melktert, when you still can’t pick a sofa, when you wish you’d never said yes to the dog.

When you don’t know where you’re going. When you’re the most sure of yourself you’ve ever been. When you’re holding onto faith with just your fingernails. When you’re singing, “Jesus loves me this I know” and you mean it with every tiny, beautiful, miraculous part of your DNA –

Zoe, always I will come.

I will rock and roll you with my love and the promise that I will help you get back on your feet. I will hold your hand. I will rejoice. I will babysit. I will pass the tissues. I will wash the dishes.

I will come.

Tonight.

Tomorrow.

And the day after. And after.

And then some.

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