If you see my almost 3-year-old daughter bouncing around, following behind me at the grocery store or at an event, playing at the park or with toys in Gramma's store in town, she will likely ask you for your name.
She's really into names. And who belongs to whom in this world.
Like Great-Gramma Ginny is Gramma Beth's mommy, and Gramma Beth is Mommy's mommy, and Edie is Mommy's daughter, and it gets a little blurry to her about how the rest works.
Somehow, the chain collapses there and Papa Gene becomes her granddaughter. Papa Gene almost always becomes her granddaughter by the end of these conversations.
But it's fun to hear her try to figure out how the world works in this way and how she understands that the people who love her are connected in some special way.
One day as we were driving home from town, Edie noticed the moon. It was big and bright and hanging in a darkening sky like a lone bulb in an empty room.
"The moon! Mommy! Look at the moon!" She exclaimed from her perch in her seat in the back. I said yes, yes, it's so beautiful. Look at that. And then, for fun, because just minutes before she was giving the hills and the trees and the deer grazing in the fields names of their own, I asked her what she thought the moon's name was.
"Carlile," she responded, almost immediately, as if the two are old familiar friends who talk on a tin-can phone with a long line up to outer space every night before bed. "His name is Carlile."
Carlile the Moon. I laughed at the thought of it, picturing what Carlile might look like way up there in the lonely sky, surrounded by quiet, twinkling stars. Maybe he wears a fedora and tiny glasses that sit on the tip of a big, bumpy moon rock nose.
He'd adjust them a bit and clear his throat when he heard the little girl's voice shouting, "Carlile, Are you there!?" from the tin-can phone, taking a deep breath before tackling the thousand questions about the universe that his tiny Earth friend was about to fire at him.
I imagine they would spend a lot of time discussing the names of the stars.
And then I pulled into our driveway and put the car in park, my little moon story coming quickly to a halt as I tackled the task of unloading my babies and getting them bathed, fed and ready for bed under a moon that suddenly felt a little more like a friend to me.
"Mommy, is your name Jessica Blain?" Edie asked as I finished our lullabies and I went in for a hug.
"Yes, that's my name!" I agreed.
A hundred times a day, I can't believe these tiny humans are my children. In quiet moments, the weight of what it means to belong to one another often overwhelms me...
"Mommy, you are my mommy," my daughter confirmed with pride.
"Yes, and you're my baby," I replied.
"No, I'm your big girl."
"Good night then, big girl."
And good night, Carlile.