Yesterday morning, Stanton said he was heading out. “Have a great day, girls,” he told our daughters.
Anna, in the midst of eating her breakfast, jumped off her seat. “Love you, Daddy!” She wrapped her arms around his legs, and started to kiss him.
“Whoa, careful there,” Stanton said. He grabbed a napkin and wiped some Cocoa Krispies off of the sweet child’s mouth. At which point Anna delivered her kiss to his navy dress pants.
The moment struck me. This is what love can look like, I thought: a Cocoa Krispies kiss goodbye. Heartfelt, off the cuff, a little messy but worthwhile—love, in a nutshell.
Soon after Stanton left, I brought the girls to soccer camp. It was Anna’s first time at a camp, and I was a little worried. “I could stay and do camp with you,” I said.
“Mom,” Grace hissed. “That would be so embarrassing for Anna and me. Plus, you don’t have shin guards.”
It was true: I didn’t have shin guards.
Anna cupped my face in her hands. “I love you, Mama, but will you please go?”
The irony was not lost on me, friends. Love, also, is letting go.
Heartfelt, off the cuff, a little messy but worthwhile—love, in a nutshell.
Eventually, I did go. I came back too, of course, and when I did, I loved hearing the girls’ stories from their time at soccer camp. There were Popsicle breaks (lots of them) and nice coaches and lots of fun, overall.
“I can’t believe how much I missed you both,” I said. I had grown so accustomed to having them around this summer. I asked if they had missed me too.
“Not at all,” Grace said.
“Just a little,” Anna reported.
I was happy, truly, that my daughters had had a wonderful time without me. Because I want them to be healthy, confident and emotionally strong. I wouldn’t mind if my older daughter missed me somewhat, but… 😉
There’s so much to love about summer. Dining alfresco. Weekend trips to catch up with family and friends. Catching fireflies in mason jars.
And if you have kids, you also need to figure out how to keep everyone occupied for the several months that school’s out. Camp, child care, to grandmother’s house they go—every family engineers what works for them.
I’m grateful my work schedule can be flexible; the girls and I have been together a lot lately. And it’s been…well, crazy/beautiful.
One morning this past week, I was trying to finish a writing project. I was at my laptop in the kitchen, and the girls were playing on the back porch. Then I heard a crash, followed by Grace’s voice: “Don’t tell Mom.”
Generally not a good sign.
I had my own cringe-worthy quotable moment a few days later. The girls and I were at a playground with friends. Anna needed to use the port-a-potty, which she did. Then she didn’t want to leave the port-a-potty.
“Anna, come on,” I said. “Go play outside, or…I’ll eat all the Doritos.”
If my friend happens to read this, then she can attest that this is a true story, and a direct quote. Not that I’m proud of either of those things. But we had Doritos (a guilty pleasure) at home, and Anna knew I was capable of some serious damage.
(I wish I craved things like roasted fava beans or seaweed salad, which I do find delicious, but no, in moments of end-of-day tiredness…pass me the heavily processed nacho-cheese-flavored tortilla chips with the long list of ingredients on the label, MSG, Red 40 and all. Pass ’em on down, friends.)
Anyway…my threat worked. Anna got out of the port-a-potty, and I didn’t eat all the Doritos. Win-win.
…”Don’t tell Mom.” Generally not a good sign.
Anna’s still young, and a challenge can be that I’m still involved with many of her physiological functions. Accompanying her to the restroom. Applying sunscreen and bug spray. Answering the question, “Is this the right foot?” every time she reaches for her shoes. I don’t mind these things, but I feel I’m responsible for an additional body besides my own.
Again, not the most quixotic thesis on “what love is”…but love nevertheless: port-a-potties, OFF! and shoes.
As I drove the girls to soccer camp this morning, I told them about this post I was writing. “I started it last night,” I said. I had a few Doritos too, but I left that part out (poetic license, you know).
Grace asked me what the title of the post was, and I told her. I glanced in the rear-view mirror, and she was smiling. I smiled back.
The stuff that life’s made of happens in all these little moments, I think. And the biggest, grandest gestures may not be able to make up for missteps, or what we missed.
This is why I try to be patient as I carry Anna, dripping wet, to the restroom fifteen minutes after we got into the pool. And why I read one extra chapter to Grace before bedtime, and take the girls back to the library to see the newly hatched chicks even though we were just there the day before.
I’m not always patient, and I don’t read an extra chapter every night. But I try. Because I sense these things matter.
These things, and Cocoa Krispies kisses goodbye.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short story, “Backtrack.” An engaging read that’s can’t-put-it-down good.