The other night Briar told me she was hungry just as we were heading up to bed. Grateful that we weren’t already upstairs, I shrugged my shoulders and thought, “Why not?” We went into the kitchen for a late snack. Briar tread uncharacteristically softly, fearful that if she made a wrong move I would turn on my heel and forgo the snack and make a beeline for bed.
“Want some cheese?”
“A little apple, too?”
I lifted her up and swung her up and into the butcher block island we have in the center of our cozy kitchen (realtorese for: cramped).
She sat, swinging her legs and beaming. She inhaled the food. I’m not sure if it was from hunger or again, a wish to prolong the detour from bedtime. I watched her as she lifted fingerfuls of shredded cheese to her mouth.
I saw a smudge of green paint on her hand. I remembered how I shut down the computer and set up tubs of paint at the dining room table. How we painted Belle, making her dress purple and green instead of yellow. She lifted a piece of apple to her mouth and I noticed a navy rubber band around her wrist. The echoes of her saying, “Mommy’s got a pony tail. Briar’s wearing mommy’s ponytail like a bracelet” and the sensation of my hair falling against my cheek were as real as earlier in the day when she had undone my hair. She stretched her hand out, offering my bits of warm shredded cheese. The front of her shirt bore the remnants of our shared lunch of macaroni and cheese.
“Mommy’s eating cheese.” She said, her lips glistening with juice from the apple.
A streak of teal ink on her elbow from the doodling in my planner, a chocolate thumbprint on her jeans from the Hershey’s Kiss she earned for being sweet to her sister, several stands of hair stuck together with princess glitter..
There on her little body were the memories of an entire day. A day that I chose to set aside my work to paint. A day that I recognized her effort to play nice. A day that I broke the rules because I listened. A day that I will most likely forget, but will become a mosaic in my larger memory of her childhood.
I hope that I can listen more. That I can break more rules.
Because there is no amount of work that could ever compare to a late night picnic of shredded cheese and sticky lips kisses with Briar.