My daughter falls between three brothers and she is quite resolute. She is efficient and pro-active, a smaller and sweeter version of myself, her gap toothed smile stares back at me in my old school pictures. She longs for my time and so often, I tell her that I am unavailable before 6:30am, but not today.
I had stayed up too late last night (10:30) and so, I groggily made my way downstairs to make a cup of Folger’s and slowly wake up in the thirty minutes of quiet darkness that I claim on school days. Nope. Not today. Not on this cold and still dark Friday morning of November.
There she stood, a messy haired sprite, dressed in a pink t-shirt and some nautical looking pants, summery. I couldn’t tell her to go put on real pants as I knew there were none in her bottom drawer. No, it was still filled with shorts as I had yet to unpack the winter clothes and the few things she did have for the past week’s recent cold mornings, were still in the dryer from last evening.
What a mother can learn in thirty minutes.
We put a bandaid on her mosquito bite or maybe a mean spider bite that she thinks happened in her bed last night or on the playground. I made coffee for me and hot cocoa for her, which the idea of my so readily agreeing to this splurge before breakfast, brought a screech of giddiness. I heard about the boy in her class who was suspended for a week and listened to some of his really bad words, like fart. I signed her folder and reading log after being asked only one time and carefully examined each mimeographed sheet that she unearthed proudly from her backpack.
I briefly tried to escape in the bathroom, my failsafe refuge, but no luck. I sat and she talked and I put her flower girl bracelet on and of course, did it wrong. When I asked for privacy, she turned her back to me and carried on with her signature breathless chatter. I responded appropriately. No, we wouldn’t be able to go to New York, but we could do McDonalds. I agreed to painting her toes tonight, even though I don’t own any polish. Yes, I told her, we could sleep in my bed since daddy and the big boys would be away. I smiled to myself thinking of the tiny girl who grows arms and legs like a writhing orangutan and prefers to ask questions rather than count sheep.
This seven year old daughter of mine is quite fetching and to be moved by her very presence is a gift that I have missed too often, but not today. Some day the quiet mornings will come in a forever set of waves and I will drink hot coffee and I will miss her and the little body that once clambered for my lap. I will close my eyes in those years to come and awake thinking of the girl for whom I chose to abandon my dreams of quiet for the love that I hoped would reach far beyond those simple mornings.