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Her mother was several sentences deep in a conversation with someone when she walked up to her and initiated a conversation of her own. She repeated the only name she knew to get her attention and so "mommy" filled the room until finally the pointed finger signaling just a moment and the quick hold on inserted mid-sentence failed at their attempts of buying time. Her mother’s sudden reminder not to interrupt surprised her, but not as much as the salty water of regret collecting in the corners of her eyes.  

She tried not to blink.

She tried to control the trembling of her lower lip.

She did what most adults find impossible to do in times when their pride is bruised, she walked away. She left her ego and the words she wanted to say behind her and buried her face in her hands hidden behind the wall of an adjacent room. I avoided comforting her right away because sometimes parenting requires us to let them fall without immediately catching them. Sometimes there’s a lesson to learn and if we don’t allow the pieces to scatter, we have nothing of use to rebuild.

She wiped her eyes and turned around, startled to see me standing behind her then relieved in the same breath. She took a few steps and collapsed in my arms, adjusting her head until she found the spot on my chest that dips into my shoulder… her spot. I could tell she wanted to cry again, but enough was enough. I assured her we always want to hear the words she brings to us, we always want to see the picture she has to show us but it’s important to have respect for other people. Should she want to interrupt someone, a simple "excuse me" will allow her that opportunity. I’m aware that terminology and reasoning can get cloudy for a two year old, but I can only hope talking to her as I would speak to anyone else is doing more good than harm. Maybe the words I choose will marinate and make more sense over time. There isn’t an instruction manual in situations like these and as any parent can attest, we’re simply doing the best we can.

She gave me a hug and said she wanted to talk to her mother then she turned on her heels and left. I heard her mother finishing the conversation she had trouble maintaining earlier. I heard the footsteps of a little girl fade from one room to another then stop. I heard her say just above a whisper "excuse me, mommy" then the conversation came to a halt. In that silence I heard her say "I’m sorry, mommy, come play with me". Her daughter’s manners wrapped in an apology turned invitation surprised her, but not as much as the salty water of regret collecting in the corners of her eyes.

She tried not to blink.

She tried to control the trembling of her lower lip.

I watched as she kissed her on the cheek and squeezed her tight knowing it would never be tight enough. I watched as they both turned towards me focusing the big brown eyes they share in my direction and I fell in love with them all over again. There is nothing more beautiful than the relationship between a mother and her child, the constant give and take of forgiveness and understanding and learning as they go. 

4 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Gwen! That's kind of you; I appreciate it.

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  2. Such a sweet moment for you to be there for her -- the relationship between dads and their daughters is pretty special, too.

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