“Time for quiet time,” I say. “Head up to your room.”
She protests. Tries for a couple minutes to convince me that she’ll have her quiet time right here on the living room couch.
“Nope, upstairs you go. If you’re a good listener, then when it’s over you’ll get a special surprise.”
She gasps. “Is it ice cream??”
“I’m not telling, babe! It’s a surprise!”
“Is it a freezie?”
“Still a surprise, love.”
“Is it a spider?!”
Of late, my days with Margot are magic. Three weeks or so ago, I got laid off from my job. I was shocked, I in some small way felt snubbed, but one thing I was not was disappointed. There wasn’t an upset bone in my body outside of the financial fears that inevitably accompany income loss. Being set free from a job I never really wanted in the first place was a miracle, I swear. It was a job I was well suited for, a job I worked hard at, and a job I excelled at; but it was my first time leaving that girl of mine when all I ever wanted to do was stay with her and watch her grow. I’d had the luxury of working part-time for the entirety of her life; but when I had to launch away, all I could find in replacement was a full-time position that tore me away from my home and my sweet girl. I never wanted that.
I’m interrupted now by the sound of Roxette belting out “Listen to Your Heart” from upstairs. Because I’m a daydreamer so firmly planted within the confines of my own mind, it takes me a second to place where the music’s coming from. Okay, so that girl of mine isn’t in her room at all… she’s playing with the clock radio on my bedside table. I could let my mind reel right now about what trouble she could be getting into, but I opt not to. I choose instead to remind myself that those days where she’d eat lotion and hollow out the contents of her dresser drawers are behind me; so at worst, she’s stuffing a bobby pin into the little hole on the bathroom doorknob, or jumping across a hopscotch trail of books on her bedroom floor.
Scratch that, actually. Because I can hear the squeak of the vanity mirror opening and closing from the bathroom up there; which means she’s balanced precariously on a flimsy Rubbermaid shelving unit – maybe with a leg up on the sink, I’m not sure – and call me a bad mom if you will, but when she hollers down, “Hey mom, can I have a new toothbrush?” I just yell back, “NOPE!” and when I follow up with a question about what she’s doing and I find out she’s “just checking on the windows,” I sit here all the same, typing away as if she’s trustworthy or something.
Because actually, in no small way, she is. Of course by all means she’ll rummage through my makeup bag every chance she gets, and she’s been known to crawl deep into her closet and hole up inside her long-abandoned bassinet, but in spite of that, we’re at a stage now where she’s more aware than ever, more receptive to new ideas, more engaged in conversation and more intentional when it comes to her actions and reactions. It’s fascinating to watch. It’s freeing to stand by her and be an active participant in her life.
Life with her is still for the most part as taxing as it always has been – parenting just has that nature – but the challenges she brings to the table are always changing; the mountains she builds change shape, and the joy she fills me with is steadily increasing to this day – a phenomenon I never imagined was possible.
I’ve got to do a better job of documenting all of this. Days are swallowed whole by all sorts of moments, both considerable and mundane, and I know that as the mother of one and only, they are precious indeed. So excuse me while I excuse my girl from her boisterous and mischievous quiet time upstairs and surprise her with a spider. (Or a popsicle maybe.) You’ll be hearing from me again soon.