Cate was gone most of the day and I got the rare opportunity to hang with Taylor alone. We went to the public library, one of my favorite places on the planet. She checked out biographies on President Lincoln and a mystery chapter book and I got We the Living by Ayn Rand, a book I’ve read a dozen times already and a new book, No Surrender, a World War II Memoir. We dinked around, I love the library, and unlike book stores with their shrink wrapped newness, there is something more personal, more interesting about the library. We were sitting in two over stuffed chairs when the first of many moments struck me about how incredible my daughter is, and how so much of it has nothing to do with me whatsoever. It’s her other half.
Tay was born when I was 20 I had no idea what I was doing as a mother. Not naturally “nurturing” I was terrified that I’d royally screw up this little person who had done nothing to deserve being born my child in less than ideal circumstances. And though I loved her father, it didn’t work out, we never married, and there were rough years when we worked through our co-parenting and our different lives. But the one thing that never changed in the last ten years was that despite our different lives, choices, paths, and circumstances the one thing at the center of our respective universes was Taylor. And as we’d pass by each other on the drop offs or at the soccer games or recitals, I never fully appreciated that part and how her time with him was making her better too.
And as single parents we spend so much time talking about our side of the equation and tonight I got this opportunity to see her other half… the role her father continues to play in her life and how ten years later, some of the same things that I loved him for then are the things that are making her the incredible young woman she’s turning into today.
And her face lights up when she talks about the man who teaches her Japanese and chess strategy, who is all things quiet and thoughtful, who shows her tolerance, the value of hard work, and the nuance of the game of baseball. Her middle name, “Grace” is in honor of one of his favorite players Mark Grace and one of my favorite Hollywood icons, Grace Kelly. He was an athlete, a talented one, and talks to her about playing for the team and doing your best and we’ve sat side-by-side on the sidelines of games over the years as she’s grown. He’s still the guy who listens to the Beatles, is a lover of animals, and would always give first before asking anything in return. And the older she gets the more I see him in her, and the more it makes me smile.
But so much of what she’s learning isn’t anything he’s told her, it’s just being with him. Seeing him work through school, two sometimes three jobs, and never miss a weekend with her. She’s learning from both her parents that she’s the best of us both. And she wants to make us both proud and bridge the gap between her two lives. And in a place where it would be so easy to dismiss the other half, the times she’s gone, the influences that are not mine, I’m proud and pleased that he’s her other half.