Usually, when I go to write a post, I have the title already formed in my mind, or come up with it when I start writing. This time, I have nothing. I have thought of “There she goes”, “Bigger and Better Things”, “Work as Usual”, “No Longer Working 9-5″, then I figured it’ll come to me in time.

Today was Piper’s last official day in the office. I’m sure it’s not the last day ever, just the last day as a girl who goes to work with her mama. It began the usual way, the three of us hustling to get out of the house before seven am, Piper being claimed straight from her crib as she clamored to grab as many “friends” as she could (she must have known today was a momentous occasion, as she brought not one but TWO pillow pets- Mickey and her ladybug) on the way out the door. Previously I had found it was easier on all of us if I just packed a set of clothes (with socks and shoes, hair ties and brush/detangler) for her to change into once we got to work, rather than having to get her up even earlier (her usual wake up is after seven) to get dressed and ready, just to be there just as early. The old way left me with a LOT of time to kill with her, and getting her dressed on her own time (instead of in the cold morning air like we had during the winter) was a way better option for all of us.

So, we got to work around seven-ish, with Piper exclaiming, “The office! I LOVE the office!” (SOB) I hauled our jammie wearing munchkin up the stairs and into the office. I immediately put on her favorite movie right now (Movie- not DVD of Walt Disney Classic shorts) The Winnie the Pooh movie, and quickly got to work doing actual WORK. By the time it was 7:25 (keep in mind Piper did NOT stay still watching the movie the whole time, it was actually 25 minutes of her following me around the office, briefly laying on her pillows to watch the movie, looking out the window, pushing my chair around the office… etc.) I had finished most of my morning prep work, thanks to my habit of setting up most of it the previous afternoon.  I got Piper dressed and ready to head downstairs to get breakfast. Usually I’ll bring some Trader Joes frozen french toast (BEST to-go breakfast food ever if you have access to a plate and a microwave) and some yogurt, or cheerios and milk, but today I thought we’d pick up a fancy (for us) breakfast at the little cafe on the corner. Well, the cafe has become the typical So. Cal trendy “healthy griddle items” fare and I saw no french toast on their menu (Piper’s favorite, she’s not a pancake girl unless it’s in a fun shape) and I didn’t think Piper would settle for their low-carb high-protein haystack pancakes, so I was in a bind. To our trust Starbucks we went, and even though I was a little disappointed that the people who remembered Piper weren’t there at the time, I grabbed a yogurt parfait and a blueberry muffin.

Rocking the Disneyland apparel, you know.

Since I figured we had enough time to be able to kind of sit outside and enjoy our time together, we took a seat outside Starbucks, nibbling on the blueberry muffin, and drinking some water (I have been sick lately, as has Piper, so coffee and I haven’t been chums for awhile). Then, when I said, “Okay, Piper, time to head back to the office” she literally sat on the ground and said “No. I not go back to the office.” With a little bit of distraction, a little bit of sympathizing (“oh, you hurt yourself when you “fell”? Let mama kiss it), and a lot of heaving her up off the ground we were on our way back to the office.

We pretty much killed some time playing ballerina, watching the “big trucks” (trash trucks, various restaurant supply trucks), doing a bit of coloring, hanging out in “her room” (the teeny tiny copy/filing area that only has a curtain separating it from the rest of the room) until the bosses came in and I had more work to do. During the time when I did my work, Piper would be on the floor coloring, or stacking some things, maybe just relaxing. All of a sudden, she had a random fit! “I no color!” I looked over, “Okay, Piper, you don’t have to color if you don’t want to. What do you want to do?” Her reply? “I NO COLOR! NO COLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR!” Dude. My boss looked up and said, “Piper? What’s the deal??” Seriously, it was out of nowhere! It’s not like I said, “Piper you need to color.” She decided to do it all by herself! Anyway, I walked to her, picked her up, put her on my desk and looked her in the eye. I said, “Piper, we don’t act like that. If you are tired of coloring, tell me what you want to do.” She said, “Max and Ruby.” Kid is OBSESSED with Max and Ruby. Oh, which reminds me: SCREW YOU, Max and Ruby for not being available on Youtube, Netflix on demand, or efficiently streamable on Nick Jr.’s site. I had to scroll though Netflix on demand to find anything that caught her eye- finally one thing did: Phineas and Ferb. So I put the movie on, and sat back with her on my lap (I had since finished my work) while the movie ran on my phone on the desk. I noticed her getting heavier. She was asleep! At 11am! The last time she fell asleep at 11am was a YEAR AGO. For real.

As I sat there with my heavy child in my arms, I realized the stroller was completely out of reach. It was on the other side of the desk I was currently seated at, AND it was folded and locked. CRAP. I sat there for a minute, not wanting to move too soon to wake her up, but not wanting to wait too long that it jostled her awake either. I debated my options: Do I put her on the floor under my desk where her pillow pets were? Do I ask someone to bring the stroller over here, explain how to unlock AND unfold it and put Piper in it? Do I attempt to reach over the desk to bring the stroller over, unlock and unfold it myself? I decided to put her down in my chair, and hastily unfold the stroller and place her in it. It worked PERFECTLY. She wasn’t belted in, so she had plenty of room to shift and turn over when she wanted to, and she was nicely shaded from the office lights.

It’s almost like something was trying to guarantee that this would be a last day I could remember forever, giving her that early nap, rather than the usual forced nap she takes at 2pm or so. Piper slept from 11 to 12:30, not too shabby as office naps go. When she has a not-very-restful nap she’ll wake up crying, but today, yet again, the heavens were shining down on me. She woke up very happily, no tears in sight. I gave her a list of options for lunch: pizza? grilled cheese? peanut butter and jelly? and let her choose. She said no to all three. Haha. Then she got out of her stroller and said, “Pizza, Mama? My tummy is HUNGRY.” I placed the order for our usual (two slices of cheese and a Mr. Pibb), and she grabbed Muno as we headed out to get our lunch. First we spent a few minutes by the water fountain in the courtyard, just watching the water come in and out. Then, we walked down the stairs, holding hands as we counted each step. We walked down the street to our pizza place. But… wait. It’s a special day, right? Who knows when I’ll be able to take a lunch break during the week with my daughter again (Again: SOB)? I decided to take her on a little detour. “Want to get a cookie for after lunch?” I asked her. “A cookie?” Piper replied incredulously (seriously).  Together we walked into the cookie store, and Piper stood in front of the display case, the rows of cookies staring back at her. I’m so mad I didn’t take a picture of it, and I’m also kind of mad I didn’t do this before today. I said, “Which cookie do you want, Piper?” And she looked at each one, very carefully. I explained what each cookie had, and let her make her choice, “Sprinkles.” she requested. Not more than one, just one perfectly whimsical sugar cookie dotted with flower and star sprinkles in very spring-like colors. I took the small wax coated bag, and we headed next door for the pizza.

“cookie” I heard whispered from somewhere near my thigh. “What was that, Piper?” as I waited in line for our order. “Cookie.” she said, a little bit more insistently. “Okay, but just a small piece, the rest is for AFTER lunch.” I broke off a small piece of the cookie and handed it to her. As I received our order and paid for it, Piper munched her cookie bit. She didn’t ask for more, she didn’t whine or tantrum. She simply took my free hand in hers, with Muno in the other hand, and we headed back to the office. On the way we checked out a line of ants going into the planter of a tree, and pretended to be afraid of them. THIS is what I’ll miss of our day-to-day routine. Just your random acts of silliness that make each day worth living.

As we got into the office, I kind of worried that she’d request more cookie, and prepared myself for having her fight the lunch her tummy had been so hungry for, since it now had a cookie to be hungry for. Luckily, once again, things were going our way, and Piper scarfed down that pizza (and apples, I’m not THAT horrible of a mother), both slices.

I love this girl.

Then, she said she was ready to get down. I said, “Don’t you want your cookie?” Ah-ha! Cookie! She nibbled every edge, picked off and ate every sprinkle, and essentially destroyed that cookie.

After a bit more work, we messed around for awhile. Just Piper and I, reading books, coloring, building castles out of her stacking cups. It was as idyllic as I could have hoped. The time came for my boss to take her on her final trip to the bank. As they left I took a blurry picture, tears also blurring my eyes. I started to quietly sob. All day I had been so emotional. I hadn’t told my bosses this was her last day, I just couldn’t get the words out. I didn’t want to make it a big deal, because then it would be impossible for me to say it. It WAS a big deal, but I didn’t want to let on. I even thought of picking up cards for Piper to give them to say “Thank you”. But then I thought, “God, how can I thank them for giving me the best gift I could have ever received? They gave me the best years of my baby’s life- I got to see everything in person- the first crawl, first step. Everything. How can I thank them for that?” So I decided to let it go, because even THINKING about getting a card made me sob like a fool at my desk.

As I sobbed to myself, I was surprised to hear my boss at my back. Piper had “staged a mutiny” he said, and didn’t want to go to the bank. Did she know? Did she know I needed that time with her? To make me feel a little less lost? Who knows. Together we laid on the pillows and watched the Best of Donald Duck. I realized my work for the day was done not going to get done unless it was a time-sensitive matter, so I called my Dad to come get us. He arrived at pretty much the same time that the boss was leaving, and my Dad hung out in the office with us (he also doesn’t know this was Piper’s last day, I just can’t tell people verbally. I just can’t.). As we gathered up our usual things to leave, I packed my bags with a few of the stuff that was purely for the office- her stacking cups, certain movies, her box of crayons. The only thing I acknowledged that was coming home was her cups, because they needed to be washed. I don’t know why it’s literally impossible for me to say, “Because you/she won’t be coming back here.” Seriously, just writing that- “you won’t be coming back here” is giving me a huge burning in my chest, probably from trying to keep this sob from escaping- I’m writing this from beside my sleeping husband, wanting to remember everything from this day while I can.

As I shut down my computer and gathered my things to go, I heard Piper say, “I’m ready to go!” I thought to myself, “I know you are, baby girl. It’s ME who isn’t ready to let you go, even though I know I have to.” Instead of giving me that time to dwell on her last steps as an inhabitant of this office, she ran off to the stairwell- the very same stairwell she fell down a few months ago. My dad asked her if she wanted him to carry her, and she said, “No, hold Mama’s hand.” So, just as we did on that very first day of working as a team- January 4th, 2010, I think it was- we held on to each other as the day ended. We did it.

And now, the title of this post has just come to me.