I have worn many hats this week. Today was gardener, party planner, referee and nagging mom. Somewhere I misplaced my bunny ears.
We trickled in around 9pm after spending the evening out as a family enjoying dinner and a movie. On the way home I was struck with the realization that I had never put Easter baskets together. No clingy plastic grass. No cross-eyed chocolate bunnies. No stickers, games or spring colored socks. I thought about going out again, but I remembered that earlier in the day The Tortoise had asked if the Easter Bunny could just leave her some money for iTunes this year. That plan seemed much easier.
“Hare, ” I said absently picking up dirty socks and mis-matched pajamas. “Instead of an Easter basket this year, The Tortoise and I thought maybe you would just like some iTunes or Nook money.”
There was silence. Then a sniffle. I looked up and saw The Hare’s broken face, her cheeks turning red. “But doesn’t the Easter Bunny decide what I’m getting?”
We stood staring at each other for a minute. I had no idea what to say.
“There’s no Easter Bunny, is there?” she started to cry.
“Really? You thought…”
“Then what else have you been lying about? SANTA?”
Now I started crying.
“THERE’S NO SANTA EITHER?”
I walked across the room, tossing clothes left and right, enveloped her in my arms. We both sunk to the floor weeping.
“Oh honey, ” I whispered, “I am so very sorry.”
“All this time I thought I was a good little girl because I was on the Nice List and now…well, this is just too much to handle, ” she continued to sob.
We managed to finish getting ready for bed and then crawled under the covers together. Tears were shed until we had to flip the pillow over looking for a dry spot. I wrapped her in my arms, kissing her wet cheeks, reminding her how it was a wonderful way to show love to each other without taking all the credit. We talked about our favorite Easter baskets and most surprising Santa gifts. I assured her that she didn’t need an imaginary list to know she was good. The Hare wept because she said the holidays will never be the same. I wept because I had broken her heart.
She just wasn’t ready to grow up yet, and I guess neither was I. This felt as empty as the first time she didn’t want to nurse or when she gave up her pacifier. I had lost another piece of my baby, watched her age right before my eyes, witnessed innocence being broken down by reality.
The Hare was quiet for a few minutes, her breathing more slow and steady. I thought maybe she had fallen asleep.
“Mom, ” she whispered, “I’m just so glad that fairies are real. I don’t think I could have handled another disappointment.”
I gave her a big squeeze and shut my eyes.
“Me too, sweetie. Me too.”