This is a post about a freckle. Not just any freckle, though – the tiny perfectly round brown freckle that has just recently made an appearance on the end of Ruby’s tiny perfect nose.

I swear it wasn’t there when she went off to St. Louis with her dad for Easter. But her first night back, I was wiping her face off before bed, and I noticed a particularly stubborn spot of dirt.

“What have you gotten on your nose, kiddo?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s my new freckle, Mama,” she said casually.

And I fell in love all over again.

Here’s my biggest mom confession: I did not fall in love with my daughter immediately. I immediately felt intense maternal protectiveness. I immediately felt like I would do anything for her, die for her, bend to her every whim. But love? Not exactly. I guess it could be because I had a C-section (or “birth rape,” as one of the moms in my hippie playgroup called it, claiming it was impossible to bond with your baby after one), but I really think it was more a personality quirk – I am just not all that impressed with infants. They are cute and cuddly, sure, but not all that interesting. I don’t have anything against babies, but even as a pre-teen babysitter, I much preferred kids who could play and talk.

Over the course of that first year, of course, I grew to absolutely adore my daughter, thrilling as each new skill she mastered revealed more of her personality: smiling without reservation, rolling over with confidence, eating her feet with gusto …

Now that she’s a big sassy 4-year-old, though, the days are filled with less of watching her with wide-eyed wonder and much more of “we’re-late-put-on-your-socks-hurry-up-eat-your-dinner.”

Seeing that brand-new adorable freckle somehow jolted me out of my routine, though. I set the washcloth down on the edge of the sink and squealed. “Ruby! That freckle is the cutest thing I have ever seen!”

I have no idea why I find it so charming – even Ruby thinks I’m being silly, telling me patronizingly, “Mommy, every time you talk about my new freckle, it makes me smile because you are just too, too adorable!” – but that tiny unexplained unexpected change to a face that I have memorized just delights me to my core.

It’s something I never would have believed about motherhood had you told me 10 years ago. I would’ve believed that I would be proud of her kindness or charmed by her curls or  awed by her fearlessness. But that I would be completely undone by one little freckle? No. Before I had a child, I had no idea how very many ways and reasons there were to love one.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.