She runs toward me off the playground, full charge ahead. I plant my weight into the ground, steady myself with my stick. Ready to receive the full brunt of her love as she embraces me with her strong arms and beautiful words.
I just sit down with my cup of tea after long minutes cleaning dishes, switching laundry. My back aches with stiffness. I release my energy to the sofa cushions and pillows. Giving myself up to some time of "do-nothingness." Then she calls me to the computer. She's stuck and needs help. She calls me to her craft table to see a new creation. She calls me upstairs, needing help with one thing or another. Again and again. She needs - or wants - my assistance. My attention. She knows I just sat down, but this does not phase her. I am needed and I must go.
We read together during weekend days, as a family. No more bedtime stories. At least not for now. No longer is it completely trackable who put her to bed last night. Did you read, or did I? No longer a bench mark for accuracy. But she knows. She knows it is my turn to tuck her in, all comfy and warm. I argue that it doesn't really matter. Daddy can do it again. I'll take you tomorrow. No - it's you're turn, she says. No matter that the stairs are not my greatest friend. No matter that - yet again, and always - my back is tight with pain. No matter. My night for bedtime duties. She knows the pattern too well.
She wants to play a game. She sets it up on our large living room ottoman, so that she sits on the floor and I can sit on the couch. She knows sitting on the floor can almost literally break me apart with pain. She's considering my needs in relation to her own. She's making me as comfortable as she can. She's taking care of me.
I fold the laundry into tall piles. I've done my job. With only a few gentle reminders, she then does hers. Delivering each pile to its rightful upstairs location. She's doing for me what I cannot easily do on my own.
Daddy and she go out for a trek in the woods. Most likely with a little geocaching included. She reminds him that Mommy used to geocache with them as well. Why doesn't she come anymore? Daddy reminds her that it's sometimes too difficult for Mommy to go on long hikes over difficult land. This makes it not so much fun for Mommy to want to come along. Oh. Yeah. Just the same, she misses me on their outings.
She sees a child in the large room, holding a bouquet of beautiful balloons. She turns to me with fear in her eyes. There are balloons here, Mommy! You're allergic! If I don't get a chance to stop her, she will inform said child of my allergy to the brightly colored orbs. Don't worry about it, Sweetie. I'll be okay. I won't get hurt, I promise. Thank you for your concern, but I'll be okay.
We wake up early on a cold, icy school morn. Snow is falling and ice has encased my car. As she watches her morning cartoon friends, I inform her that I'll be outside clearing off the car. Okay, she says. I struggle to the car. I slip and possibly fall on a small patch of ice. I trod through the snow. But I get the job done. It's not pretty, but it's done. Sweetie warm inside, knowing that Mom's just taking care of another "Mom" thing. No big deal at all.
I call to say I'm on my way home early from work. His phone rings a few too many times, then.... background noise. Hello?, I say. Hi, Mom! Sweetie! You figured out how to answer Daddy's phone all by yourself? Daddy showed me how. Good job! I'm coming home. I'll see you soon. Okay. Bye bye. Bye. Love you. Then she's gone. I love you too, Sweetie.
I need her help, and she gives without complaint. She asks for mine, and I return in kind. She understands my limitations, but they may or may not matter at any given moment. I'm her mom. I exist in her eyes to help her, teach her, raise her, show her love and attention. She's my daughter. Helping me with activities I cannot easily accomplish on my own, expecting me to love her and shower her with affection and attention, no matter my physical state.
There are things your kids can help you with and there are things they just expect you to do. Sweetie is no different from any other child. I am no different from any other mom. This fact is proven to me, blessedly, over and over again every single day in every single way.