A surprise? For me?

As a kid, the unexpected held the greatest amount of excitement. Predictable was boring. Time to get up for school. Time to eat breakfast. Time to pretend I don't hate math. Time to do homework...Time to...what? Mom called in sick for us today so we can stay home and just be together, laughing and making stupid jokes as we hang out in our jammies all day watching cheesy soap operas? Now that's just awesome!

To my mother's credit, daythank yous like these were very few and far between. She knew that education mattered just as well as she knew that these jammy days were extra delicious because we never knew when they were coming.

But as I've gotten older,  I have come to prefer the predictable to the unknown.

Time to wake up with Buttercup. Time to make breakfast. Time for gymnastics. Time for lunch.

I admit that as boring as predictable can be, it's my only saving grace when it comes to keeping my sanity intact. With so much to do each day, I can hold onto my wits by focusing on what comes next. All I have to do is cross each little item off of the To-Do list document I update nightly in my Blackberry, and then on to the next. I might not get them done in order, but that doesn't matter. I just know that I breathe easier when I stick to the list.

Why? It's simple; I Hate.Not.Knowing.

The Husband knows this about me and loves to torture me with little clues about what he's getting me for Christmas---on my birthday---which is the day after Christmas. Which means I get to wait a whole flippin' year and go crazy with Not Knowing until then.

Time to (try) for Buttercup's nap. Time to do the laundry. Time to get dinner ready. Time to check the mail.

And that's when we found it. A delivery sitting on our porch?

"Did you order something?"

"Wait! It's addressed to Buttercup."

Confusion. Brain racked. Nope, I didn't order anything to be delivered in her name. I think...

The mail is forgotten.

Time to take the box inside. Time to find the scissors. Time to open this bad boy up. Time to find out what's inside.

The outer, unadorned cardboard if thrown to the floor as my mother, sister, and Buttercup lean in closer to peer at the neatly wrapped and prettily bowed gift on my lap. There's a sticker on the box stating the store's name. It's in Grosse Pointe. Michigan. Huh?

Time to destroy the pretty bow. Time to open the gift. Time to find out...

This is when it hits me. As I glance at Buttercup's ever-widening eyes, her smile almost swallowing her face, I am a little kid again. I am content with the surprise itself. Forget the laundry, the mopping, the trying to keep Buttercup busy so I can eek out five minutes of consecutive writing time. If there actually is anything inside the box, that's just a bonus.  My baby got a surprise package! Addressed to her! She can recognize her name now, and this makes the surprise that much more special.

My pulse quickens as I open tear tear through the wrapping paper. I hold my breath for a lifetime; a moment.

What is it? What is it? What is it?

And when I exhale, Buttercup is wide-eyed and slack-jawed as she lays eyes on her very first heirloom quality tea set. It's pretty. It's delicate. And it's a perfectly timed belated birthday present for Buttercup from her Madrina Sonya (that would be "godmother"in Spanish.)

Buttercup's birthday was in June. It's September now. That makes it a surprise. Because sending the gift in time for her birthday would have been predictable. And that would have been boring.

I let Buttercup ooooh and ahhhh over her new little treasure for a few minutes before boxing it back up and putting it away in my closet. I''ll pull it out for her when she's older.

And I'll smile and sigh as her eyes light up and she squeals out " A surprise, a surprise!" when she sees the box, wondering what's inside and who it's from.

That's when I'll stop what I'm doing, cross "be spontaneous" off of my To-do list, and sit back while Buttercup and her dollies have tea.

Time to just be.

Thank you, Madrina Sonya. We love you.