I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my daughters these days. Not in these large sweeping grandiose ways about the depth of our relationship or how I came to be their mama, or how incredibly quickly the time has passed. I try not to get hung up on what they are learning from me and what they will carry with them that they learned under my roof and the cosmos that orchestrated it all to come to pass.
No. Lately I’ve been investing more mind and heart space to more bite-sized tidbits… things I can manage and process and appreciate in the immediate. The things that spark my senses and make me stop and pay attention. I marvel at the way the sun makes Cate’s hair look like it’s a golden crown, literally golden threads streaming down her back in this wild and reckless nest of soft hair. Or how Taylor’s deepening voice sounds more like a song when she talks about the things that she loves – Harry Potter books, science, and soccer. I pay attention to how it feels when Caitlyn takes my hand when we’re watching a movie. Her soft, no longer tiny hands that seek out mine automatically and the small smile that curls on the edges of her mouth when she feels me gently squeeze. Three times for “I love you,” Two times for “I need you” and one time for “I’m here.”
I could try write for days about their giggles but it would never say it all. Their rare moments of combined joy when their voices vault towards the heavens in a radiant expression of happiness shared between sisters. I don’t even know half the time what started it, but I wish it were a song I could play over and over. I suppose to me it actually is…
I don’t think so much about how I only have four years left with Taylor before she goes off to college, but I do see the way her fingernails are growing again because she’s trying not to bite them and my ears immediately recognize the sound of her bites of cereal before she leaves in the morning when the house is quiet and still and the stool she’s sitting in sways side to side. The way it sounds in my ears when she tells me every night that she loves me. I notice how there is always a tan line around her wrist where she keeps extra hair ties and when her cheeks flush pink, her eyes dart downwards with a curious smile on her lips as she whips her hair behind her ear when a cute boy walks by… I watched her roam the thank you card aisle for several minutes, picking up and putting down the cards, waiting for the perfect ones to get for her teachers at the end of the year. I saw her face beam when (something unknown to me) in her told her she had found the perfect ones. I don’t know what sparked her to light up, but I’m grateful to see it.
I try not to dwell on the fact that Cate is almost done with third grade and try to think more about how every day she has more freckles dusting her cheeks. I lost count of them the other day around the same time she lost patience for sitting still when we were on the trampoline talking about fairies and angels and I was trying to count them all. I don’t stop myself from breathing in deeply the smell of her hair after taking a shower and how it feels when her damp hair slides through my fingers as I make braids for her before bed while she leans her whole weight against my legs. I try to pay attention to how far around my body her arms wind when she tangles up for a hug and how it feels to hear her breath and bubbling giggles when I pick her up every so often, even though she’s nearly nine. If I could I would draw a portrait of how her little golden eyebrows furrow when she has a math question she doesn’t understand. How she’ll tap, tap, tap her pencil before looking up at the ceiling, her eyebrows now raised in wonder…. then suddenly the answer arrives and she wiggles in her seat. I don’t know what gears turned or what lightbulb flickers, but I see the light when inspiration strikes.
I don’t want to get lost in the big things when I am surrounded by so many little things. So many wonders that go rushing past my consciousness like an endlessly streaming live action drama that is my actual life unfolding one little miracle at a time. I want to remember the sound of their voices, their smells, their touch. I want to be able to picture what their features look like and how their eyes dance when they’re overjoyed… the matching flecks of blue that they both have that shine in the sunshine. How they both wiggle their toes in the grass and crinkle their noses in the sunshine… how they both throw their heads back when they laugh. I want to experience what each day is like with them in those glorious little details. I am completely, selfishly overjoyed getting to see and know these things about them. To get to be the one that bears witness to the miraculous to the mundane.
What a shame it would be if I didn’t see those things because I was worried about so many other things I can’t control. Like the time quickly passing…. and how when I look up it is as though another year has flown by and more gray hairs have sprouted. When I stay focused on the small, daily things time feels less urgent. It makes life feel more like sipping lemonade on a summer day… like I have all the time in the world. And in those moments I think I actually DO. I have all the time in the world, in their world in that moment. All of it. That is the sweetest time.
“In the end you won’t be known for the things you did, or what you built, or what you said. You won’t even be known for the love given or the hearts saved, because in the end you won’t be known. You won’t be asked, by a vast creator full of light: What did you do to be known? You WILL be asked: Did you know it, this place, this journey? What there is to know can’t be written. Something between the crispness of air and the glint in her eye and the texture of the orange peel. What you’ll want a thousand years from now is this: a memory that beats like a heart– a travel memory, of what it was to walk here, alive and warm and textured within. Sweet brightness, aliveness, take-me-now-ness that is life. You are here to pay attention. That is enough.”-Tara Mohr