Sometimes it surprises me to realize that we have started traditions, little things that “we always do,” the girls and I. One of my favorites is to smile at the girls until we laugh, in my head my smile is communicating how much I love them, that it is literally spilling out of me in the form of a smile. I don’t know if that’s what they feel now, I hope that they do one day.
I posted a picture of Finley on Instagram the other day. It was taken a few years ago as we watched big, puffy snowflakes fall outside the cabin we’d rented in Lake Placid. She was entranced, smiling and making faces at the dancing snow. I couldn’t look away.
That’s been a bit of a theme in motherhood for me. Not to say that I don’t do other things, I go to work, hit the gym, spend time writing, but there is a watching them that I do that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It feels selfish and selfless at the same time; understanding I would lay down my life for them, but also wanting to devour and possess every moment I can with them. I am torn between wanting to be inside of their circle and wanting to stand guard outside of it.
Yesterday we were headed for a retreat in Brant Lake, but on the way to school Finley got sick. We weren’t sure what to do—cancel the trip or take her with us. She blinked with glassy eyes and pale skin, “Please bring me with you. I can do it.”
We listened to her and I climbed in the backseat with her. We held hands and rubbed shoulders. I kissed her forehead and showered her with “You oks?” She would nod each time, then, as the day wore on, she perked up and scampered around the lake house.
I found myself watching her, a weight against my chest at how fragile everything is—our plans, our lives, the ability to fix or forecast. All we can do is move to the rhythm of the days.
Today I was thanking her for being Finley. “Thank you for being Finley? What does that mean?” She asked laughing.
“It means that you are so exactly yourself that you make me smile until I laugh and love until I pop.”
“You pop? And smiling at me can make you laugh?” her eyes danced.
“Well, it’s not you that makes me laugh, it’s the feelings inside of me. You too.”
“Me too what?” she asked expectantly.
“You too laughing,” I said.
I did. We laughed and loved and popped from the feeling of being us.
Go smile at someone ’til you pop, or allow yourself to be smiled at in that way.