Her breathing is steady as she works the handle of the nail clippers. Intense concentration, she wills herself to master them. She'll be two next week.
Her bottom scoots into the bend of my lap, the closeness building her
confidence. She can do it on her own. Where did she get this fierce independence? I smile wryly,
I consider scrolling Facebook behind her back. Literally behind her back
where she can't see and grab the phone from my grasp. Instead I caress her little toes. They aren't baby toes anymore.
They look more and more like her daddy's, like a child's foot, like a
little girl who is growing up and refuses to stop. I stroke these little
toes in wonder, in sadness, taking in each little curve, each little
ridge. I want to remember these toes just as I did her newborn toes.
I miss my newborn.
Oh, but I love my toddler!
She's still working the clippers. I keep a close eye to make sure she
doesn't lose a finger tip. She can't yet squeeze them, which is a relief
but I know that's coming.
I nuzzle her hair, that tousled, bed-headed hair. I kind of like the "hot mess hair" look. She's a kid. It works for her.
I'm soaking up this snuggle. I want it to last forever, to remember it
forever. Words start piecing themselves together so I can.
I'm home with her these days. I love it. Even when I'm crying because it can be so frustrating, I still love it.
I think a lot about what I want this time to be for us, how we use our
time, and what we will remember. Memory is everything, right? It's how
we define our experiences, our lives even. We live in the moment and
while we shouldn't dwell on the past, our present moment will soon be a
memory and hopefully, it will be the kind that propels us to the future.
That's how I want to use my time -- our time. Come on, Alia, let's
enjoy this moment so much that we remember it with a joy that causes us
generate more moments of joy. It's a sweet thought, maybe too much
pressure if you think about it too much, but a worthy perspective. Let's
just call it a direction for momentum.
I've been thinking a lot about momentum.
I walk through the house on my way to the kitchen, but stop quickly to
pick up a dirty tissue on the floor and then reach behind me for the
shirt a little girl just abandoned. I head back to the kitchen, but a
little slower. My momentum was thrown off. The direction I had chosen
was delayed by a slight detour. A worthy detour, but a distraction from
the goal. I do this to myself several dozen times a day, only gaining
frustration (albeit a slightly cleaner house) because I continually
frustrate my momentum. And that only spurs me to clean harder, tidy
faster, do more, but with something akin to desperation. My moments then are not filled with joy. They aren't
moments I want or need to remember, but they start to shape my
experiences, my life.
I'm home these days to love on Alia...and to write. More often than not I
take on a different direction -- no crumbs on the floor, no dishes in
the sink, no meal left uncooked. All very worthy things, and certainly a
part of my life, but definitely not my purpose, not my direction, not
what I want my obsession to be. I get worn out, so I pick other
directions -- scrolling Internet pages, zoning out on Netflix, frivolous
shopping trips - the kind where you don't buy anything. Again, not "bad," but not exactly where I truly desire to spend
A tricky thing, momentum. If you stymie it enough, it flees. Thankfully,
the reverse is true: the slightest hint of encouragement and momentum
returns, sometimes even stronger than before.
This post is my attempt at encouraging momentum.
My daughter scrambles up on my lap and gives me unasked for and
oh-so-welcome kisses. She runs over to her changing table and grabs the
giant book tucked behind it. She struggles to drag it to me. It trips on
her box of toy food and tumbles, pushing Alia over. Red-faced, she
cries out and throws her hands up in frustration. She refuses to try
again. No momentum. She's giving up.
"Alia, I bet you can do it! Take a deep breath and figure it out. Try
moving the box first and then moving the book. I bet you're gonna do
That last sentence works like a charming challenge every time. She grins
and marches back to the fray. One hand grabbing the box, one hand
grasping the book, she gives a good tug and shouts "ta-da!!" The book is
We flip through giant pages and I am proud of her and my soul is
challenged. Take a deep breath. You can mother and write. You can care
for your house and for your art. You can move obstacles and move
forward. Don't focus on the frustration of feeling stuck -- feel the
release to do these things you want to do! I bet you're gonna do it.
So I breathe in her sweet hair and let words craft themselves in my head. I exhale thanks to Jesus for this moment, this joy from him giving me strength. I sit on the floor munching toast with my toddler and leave the crumbs
for later. And then she pulls out her toy keyboard because she sees mama
writing, too, and my heart melts.
This is a good life. These are the memories that move me forward.
She drains the dregs of my hot chocolate and I finish writing because we're going upstairs to make some more.