I used to love vintage dresses.

I’d cut out of work right at noon and drive 30 minutes round-trip to the closest thrift store. Once there, I’d spend the remaining half hour of my lunch break combing through polyester jumpsuits, corduroy overalls and sky-high shoulder pads just to find that one crown jewel. It was usually a floral number, with oversized buttons and a pretty pleat. I’d drive home every evening with at least one $1.50 treasure and store it in our basement.

On Sundays, my husband would photograph me wearing my finds so I could sell them online. We used a really old, shoddy camera—this was before the smartphone era. I’d complain about the lighting and he’d complain about how long it was taking but we were to-the-bone happy.

He had a Volkswagen camper van. He home-brewed during the summers and I grew two gardens of which I was really proud. We had a tiny, white Bichon named Pablo (after Neruda) and a little brick cottage and everything had its place. Crepes on Saturdays, church on Sundays.

Until, one early June morning, our quiet little newlywed life was forever lost, when we found something much more important.

We named her June and she had her papa’s eyes. We were both so sure she was going to be a boy that my husband had a necklace made with the initials, SAM—for Silas Avett Myers—he didn’t even get a backup necklace for a girl. She was the outpouring of every dream we’d ever had and we quietly settled into our new roles. When her brother Ford came less than two years later, we took on the challenge and found even deeper joy.

But along the way, I stopped shopping at thrift stores.

I stopped swiping my black liquid liner into a cat eye. I stopped wearing eyeliner altogether. I packed away my corporate pencil skirts and started buying a ton of leggings.

I threw my hair into a bun so often that the ends cracked, but who cared? I had four baby hands grabbing at it and even though they’re small, those grips are freakishly strong.

I left my job as a technical writer and took on freelance writing. I loved it but the only free hours I had were at night. So I learned to work from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and how to survive on five hours’ rest and a few cups of coffee. I let my in-laws take Pablo, because they could take him on walks every day. I couldn’t push a stroller, hold a baby in the Ergo and manage a leash.

I stayed home all day and learned everything there was to know about my babies. I knew the first things they said in the morning, and the way they looked right before falling asleep.

I memorized their little sighs and the way they looked up at me when they needed answers. I kept every flower they picked in a jar beside the stove. I hung onto every word they spoke and held so many dance parties in the living room I became sick of Bruno Mars, and no one in the history of the Earth ever gets sick of Bruno Mars.

I still know these things. We still do them every day.

I still stay home with them and there’s hands-down nowhere on Earth I’d rather be. I still write at night and I’m still tired in the mornings but I’m happy right down to the very core.

But sometimes, at 2 a.m. when the work is through and the house is dark and quiet, I run a bath. And I sit there with the candle lit and the light flickering off the tiny bathroom walls. I move like a mime, careful not to splash water too loudly or step on that one creaky floorboard.

I run this bath just for me.

For the girl who loved thrift-store dresses and her little dog.

For the girl who gave presentations and wore heels to the office.

For the girl with cute bangs who really loved standing in the front row at concerts.

For the girl who had copious amounts of “me” time and could binge-watch Lost on a weekday night.

I miss her, sure. But she’s not gone. She’s just waiting—and watching.

While I take two toddlers to library story time on Wednesdays. While I mix the oatmeal, put on Paw Patrol, and sit beside them on the couch every morning before preschool. While I wipe down countertops and chop veggies and play hide-and-seek at one in the afternoon. While I cool fevers and wipe noses and tell bedtime stories.

And one day, she’ll come back around.

And when she does, I’ll turn on the television a little louder to fill the silence. I’ll dig out the bathtub toys and bring down the baby dolls. I’ll sit on their beds and play a movie in my mind of fairy tales and forts, of potty training and PB&Js.

Of that sacred, sweet pocket of time when we were all each other needed. A universe of us.

I’ll flip through the photo albums and marvel at the milestones.

Then, I’ll grab my husband, put on a little Bruno Mars and dance.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Free-Photos via Pixabay