Tim is on call tonight. None of us is likely to get much sleep as a result but what's new? Seems that with this pregnancy insomnia has been the name of the game. I can't remember when was the last time I got a good night of sleep. Call nights are stressful for him and that sucks. For me, the break in routine is always surprising.
When I got home from work tonight, Ada and I made scrambled eggs and toast together. She sat on the counter whisking the eggs while I tossed in a pinch of salt, a twist of pepper and a dash of milk. We make a good team - she loves to help me cook and I think that's pretty cool. After we had eaten those eggs she wanted more so we did it all over again. I sat across the table from my daughter and we said cheers and tapped our glasses of milk - hers without the sippy cup lid for a change. I studied her as she balanced her eggs on top of her toast - something she learned from me. We had a conversation that only she fully understood. I was in heaven. Apart from a minor disagreement about how many times I would sing along to her Thomas (the train) book the evening was perfect.
Our days have been hectic and forced lately.
When long stretches go by and I feel like I've been around but not really connected with her, that really bums me out. She needs to know that we're paying attention to her - it's the only real, active way to show her that she is loved and valued. I don't want to let her down. So over the past weekend I found more opportunities to slow down, let reality accumulate and just hang out with her. Inevitably, like tonight at the dinner table, I'm overcome by just how much I really love this kid. Not just because I'm her mother but because she's turning into a really great little person.
On Friday we dropped Tim off out at the VA hospital. In San Francisco the VA is situated on the northwestern-most point of the peninsula. It really is stunningly beautiful. On a foggy day you can hear the foghorns as the ships make their way into the bay. On a sunny day the Pacific Ocean goes on and on forever. If it's especially clear you can even see the Farallon Islands 27 miles to the west of the city. It is on these rare VA-at-the-crack-of-dawn days that Ada and I will drop off Tim and swing by the beach before heading home through the Golden Gate Park. I remember the first time I took her to the beach - she reacted to the sand as if it was going to kill her. Sand and bubbles, her mortal enemies. The next time I took her to the beach she spent a couple of hours moving sand from one place to another and back again with her tiny bare hands.
For months now, she gets to the beach and wants to pretty much run head-long into the water like she tried to do in Hawaii. She doesn't understand that the undertow will sweep her out to sea where it will unceremoniously drown her. It was a relief this time that she was content to watch the dogs playing on the beach or to walk along with me, holding my hand.
Something else quite magical happens during these early morning beach walks where it's just me and her. She is mesmerized by the water, soothed by the breeze and balanced by the waves. The ocean manages to uncover a wiser, older soul facet of her character that emerges under just the right circumstances.
It's lovely to watch but it isn't what slays me about seeing it. Rather, I have access to these fundamental parts of her that she doesn't even know exist yet. We all have things we hide or won't admit to. She's so honest and so one hundred percent sensory that she hasn't even developed a need to either connect with or deny deeper parts of herself. But I know what's there because I've seen it when she was this little and unguarded. I'll always know that this connection to the ocean exists for her even if she hides it from everyone she meets as an adult. I also know what she does when she gets tired, when her feelings are hurt, and when she's angry. I also know how she learns, explores, and creates. I love that I know her this way. To know her this way requires me to spend long periods of time with her. It's an investment worth slowing down to make.