Inspiration-less on a Sunday night … I started this several weeks ago.
Something I want to remember, from these swollen days: that Grace loves my company above all others. On Friday night, after I read some Harry Potter to her, she read alone in her room as she is allowed to do before bed. She bounced into my bedroom minutes before the time I had told her to turn out her light, face lit with delight as she told me about what had happened in the chapters of Ramona the Pest she just read. She paused in her story telling to ask me if I would tuck her in. Of course I did, and as I was doing so she said, “Mummy, I just love talking to you.” I hugged her tight, blinking back tears, knowing that this will not always be true and hoping that I can remember, when it is not, the days that it was.
We are still in the all-encompassing part of parenting where my presence, spiritual and physical, is what she wants. Still in the union of intense togetherness, of my being her sun. I can see over the edge of the horizon, though, that this time will draw to an end, and I am already mourning it.
… (and now, now)
Again with the preemptive regret, sorrow’s shadow coloring the moment even before the loss itself has arrived.
Last week we got our hair cut together. Sitting in the chair, she was a teenager, resplendent in her black smock, chatting comfortably with the stylist. When it was my turn, she sat at my feet, drawing an elaborate cartoon story which she showed me after. She has invented her own character, Peace Girl, whose adventures she has begun to chronicle.
At soccer on Saturday morning, Grace kept wiping out, and her knees were covered in green skid marks flecked with blood where she’d actually skinned her knee. She’d race over to me, face contorted in a dramatic mask of pain, and I’d lean over and kiss her knee before shooing her back into the game. That’s all it took. These days, too, are numbered. I know that.
And then, at halftime, after her snack, she walked over to me, a sly grin on her face, watermelon juice hanging like parentheses on either side of her mouth. She held out a dandelion.
I cheered her on the whole game, knowing how her eyes dart to me immediately after she scores, passes, or messes up. It’s as though life doesn’t happen unless I’m there to witness it; I hope I’m arrogant in that impression, but I fear I’m not. All day long, she hollers: “Mummy! Watch this!” And I do, trying to be patient, failing a lot.
Later, when I twisted my hair up to squeeze the water out of it at the end of my shower, I noticed a soggy dandelion on the floor of the shower. I’d put it behind my ear for the rest of the game and forgotten. My Gracie girl. Skinned knees, lanky, gangly legs, shaky smile, flashes of confidence in a general fog of awkwardness. Harry Potter and the library and “please, please, please Mummy, pack Oreos in my lunch.” She needs me to tie her shoes, she asks for a flashlight to use as a microphone when she dances alone in her room to a new CD of top forty songs she got as a birthday party favor, she needs to be tucked in and kissed on the forehead before she can sleep.
She is like a person fluent in two languages, whose switching between them can bewilder those listening. She hopscotches between worlds, between phases of development, with a fluid ease who pattern I cannot discern. She is demanding and loving in equal measure, bilingual as both giver and taker. Her brown eyes flicker with doubt, with feeling, with questions, with emotion, and always, always she looks to me for answers, reassurance, comfort. And the best part? Most of the time, I can still provide it. These are long, heavy, heady times with my Gracie.
I wish these days could last forever.