because i get to be here with you


{image is a photo of Katie on a swing}

It is Sunday night. Katie and I have just come from dinner and she’s convinced me to head to the park instead of home. “We’ll be little kids!” she says gleefully as we pull up to the playground. “C’mon, Mama, will you push me on the swing?”

She runs over and plops herself down in the swing, then laughs. “Hmm, it’s kinda tiny,” she says. It sits about two feet from the ground.

I push her and she begins to pick up speed. “Mama,” she shouts into the wind, “do the Go away! like you used to!”

I laugh. I can’t believe she even remembers this stuff.

“C’mon, pleeeeeeeease?” she yells, laughing.

“All right, kiddo,” I say, “you got it,” Just as she reaches me, I give her a push and say, “Hey, go away.” She giggles.

As she swings back toward me, I push her just a little harder and say, “Hey! I said GO AWAY!”

A rumpled dad with two toddlers gives us a sideways glance. I smile at him.

We hit the monkey bars (she does; I don’t) and the spinning web (she climbs; I watch – Mama doesn’t spin) and then the slide (oh, heck yeah, we do.) She asks me to go down first and catch her at the bottom. “Yes, Principessa,” I say, then stand with open arms as she slides down and eases to a full stop six inches before the end of the slide. We crack up.

Finally, we make our way to the hill at the far end of the field. The one that feels like the top of the world. “Wait, Mama!” she says with a smirk, “Come here.” She brings me to the very edge of the hill and with a dramatic sweep of an arm, breaks into Aladdin’s “I can show you the world.”

We plop down on the grass, still dry and yellow after the harsh Boston winter. She sits in front of me, then pushes back into my lap. We sit.

Two birds chase each other across a path below us. I spot them first and help her to find them. It isn’t easy; they’re well-camouflaged against the grass. She asks what kind of birds they are. I have no idea, I tell her. I’m not that mom.

“Push me down the hill!” she says suddenly. “Let’s see how far I can slide!”

I give her a shove and she goes about eighteen inches. She turns around and says, “Oh, well that sucked.” We dissolve into laughter and try again. We get a little better each time. As she lands, she turns around to see how far she’s gone. Once, I run away and try to sit back down to make it look like she’s gone far further than she has. Instead, I trip and fall on my tush and it’s all the more hilarious.

Eventually, she comes back and leans against me again. We listen to the birds and watch the light change. “Thanks for bringing me here, Mama,” she says, “I don’t ever want to leave.”

I tell her that I feel like the luckiest Mom on the face of the Earth.

“Why?” she asks.

I’m afraid that if I tell her why – really why –  I’ll break the spell. That if I tell her that it’s because I was so afraid of thirteen – that thirteen was supposed to be the age when the mother daughter dynamic was a disaster, the age at which she stopped talking and retreated, the age at which I could no longer find a way in. That it was supposed to be the time that we clashed, when words were fueled by hormones and resentment, slamming doors and “You just don’t understand’s”. That I was terrified of losing her. Of losing this. And that instead, here she is on my lap at the park at twilight, and yeah, we have our moments and yeah, it’s hard sometimes but that isn’t ever all there is and for the love of God, we have THIS. And I can barely wrap my head around the idea that she wants to spend time with me – to come to the park and be little kids and swing and slide and run and roll down hills and listen to the birds and watch the  light and, if just for a moment, to stop the insistent forward march of time just long enough to breathe.

That’s why.

But I’m afraid to say it aloud. To give it a name.

I wrap my arms around my girl and simply say, “Because I get to be here with you.”





7 thoughts on “because i get to be here with you

  1. I so love this! I thank God every day that my daughters who are 15 and14 still seek out my lap with open arms. BEST.FEELING.IN.THE WORLD!!

  2. I love this post. It’s beautiful to have these moments, and we mothers can remember similar moments with our children as we read your post. Thank you.

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