When Cate wandered into my room early this morning I was just waking up. Back to the door, I didn’t hear her coming or see her small frame as she crossed the room to my bedside. It wasn’t until her tiny hand touched my shoulder that I realized she was there.
“Mama, wake up,” she whispered, touching my cheeks with her warm hands. Without opening my eyes, I smiled.
Without a word and with my eyes still closed I snatched her off her feet and pulled her under the covers with me. Her face inches from mine I finally opened my eyes and saw her eyes wide with excitement and her mouth open in a giggle.
“Mama!” she scolded. “You got me good!”
I pulled her close, smelling her shampoo, feeling her chest rise and fall as she breathed, completely relaxed in my arms. The love is almost tangible in moments like these. It’s the easiest thing I know.
“What do you want to do today?” I asked.
“Let’s make pirate cupcakes and watch a movie!” she squealed. And so our day began…
|Me and Kobe|
Cate and I are alone for the weekend. Big sister is visiting family with her dad and so Cate and I had the rare chance to hang out just the two of us… well, three. We were dog-sitting one of my best friend’s dogs. Kobe is an adorable tap dancing Shetland Sheepdog who hasn’t left my side since he arrived.
And today was a day for the record books. And it wasn’t that we even did anything remarkable. We didn’t. We barely left the house. But I was able to enjoy all the things about just being around her with no plans or “stuff ” we had to do. Nothing was required, we were never rushed for time, and all the little, wonderful things about her were so stunningly clear to me today.
She enjoys everything that she does. She delights in it. We drew pictures and read books, her finger following the words her bright pink nails I’d just painted already smudged where she had impatiently checked them to see if they were dry.
“Sorry.” she said, her mouth turning down. “Can you fix my nail… again.” she couldn’t keep the smile off her face with the request. She made funny faces for the camera, painted a picture of a cat with her new watercolor paints, and helped me fold bathroom towels. Stacking them awkwardly before carrying the pile up the stairs. Each task she didn’t just go through the motions, she lived in them.
Cate is a storyteller. She loves to relive the moments of her day, even moments I was there with her. Somehow told in her innocent and excitable tone, they’re new and exciting. I was acutely aware of the opportunity to have my attention undiluted with just her in my care. Though big sister Taylor was missed, it was a joy to have the time with my Cate.
Cate is in awe of the world, and she radiates with joy and humor. She helped me boil eggs, standing on a kitchen chair in her apron and chef’s hat so she could see over the pot. We stood side by side, watching the eggs bounce around in the bubbles. And she cackled with incredulous laughter when we cracked the shells and a solid egg was inside. She could hardly believe it was possible.
Cate loves to play and finds something laughable in everything she encounters. We played Tic-Tac-Toe on the mirror of my bathroom with lipstick and eyeliner before she helped me clean the glass, her idea, an easy solution to us not having a piece of paper nearby when the whim to play struck her. Gentle, patient Kobe followed us from room to room and when we modeled mustaches, Cate even managed to get him to wear one for a few minutes as he slept nearby.
Like most dogs, Kobe spent most of the day wandering in and out of slumber, but never far from where we were, keeping a close eye on us and our activities; sighing with contentment often. Frequently Cate would rush over to him and spontaneously embrace him, kiss his nose, or cover him with a blanket. She wanted him to feel loved and cared for.
“You’re okay here Kobe. I’ll take care of you.” she’d whisper.
Our day ended piled on the couch, the three of us watching a movie; Cate and I under a blanket, Kobe sleeping comfortably on my lap. And when I leaned over at one point they were both sleeping, lids heavy, breaths deep and measured. And I felt warm all over. I realized what a gift I’d been given in this simple, silly day.
The instinctive love and loyalty of children and animals are some of the most pure and complete connections we can have as human beings. Not complex, just pure and unquestioned… its something I’m learning from as I get older, more guarded, and less trusting. And as my youngest child and a gentle animal sleep inches from me, I’m grateful to have been given this day with such amazing, lovely little souls. It’s one I’ll never forget.