Monday, August 1, 2011
remember this day
Parenting a toddler is challenging. This is not a surprise. What I am learning about toddlerhood is that it's hard, frustrating to be a person with clear ideas and desires and only imperfect methods of communication at one's disposal and no final say even if mommy or daddy does understand what is being communicated. I knew this intellectually coming into this, and now I understand it in a whole new way.
But less expected are the perfect moments, the perfect days. Yesterday was one of them - a dreamy and quietly spectacular just-us sort of morning followed by the perfect afternoon. I took J to our city's Episcopal cathedral for morning mass. It is a huge echoing box of a building and she thought it was wonderful. She huddled close to me while taking in the height and breadth of the space. She pointed excitedly at the stained glass windows, the organ, the altar table. She whispered in my ear "up, up" when she wanted to be picked up to see over the pew, until she discovered the kneeler and then "dow, dow!" so that she could stand on that and "mama" so quietly while patting my shoulder and flirting with someone in the pews behind us. After mass was done she greeted all my friends there with a cheery "hi!" and as we drove away she shouted "bye bye cha! BYEEEEE!"
After church we drove to our neighborhood coffee shop, where they know us now and get my double-tall americano with room and J's side of fresh fruit ready as we are walking in the door. J walked next to me, greeting the barista and dancing to the music playing over the sound system while I paid and added my sugar and cream. She was totally at ease. I felt so grown-up, having a coffee date with my girl. We took our treats outside and J was happy to sit in a big person chair next to me at our table and munch on her fruit while I sipped my beverage and we talked about our day so far.
"bye bye cha!" she commented, and I agreed that we had left the church.
"ra! ra!" she observed, her way of barking like a dog, pointing at the bowl the shop leaves out with water for its doggie patrons. J made the sign for drink,and pointed excitedly down the road.
"oh, I see the dog!" I replied. "I wonder if he is going to take a drink from that bowl. He did, and we were both very excited. As we chatted I found myself grinning like I'd won the lottery. I felt sort of silly until J demanded "dow!" and trotted over to another table to pick up some keys another customer had dropped. She handed them to the bemused woman, and came back. "Up!" I kissed my sweet dear girl, realizing again that every moment with my daughter is a gift, and that sometimes (many times!) parenting is just as sweet or sweeter than the dreams I cherished in the months before she joined us.