Yesterday I was walking across the street holding Lucille’s hand.
“Whoa, Mama,” she said. “I just saw a rainbow!” She stopped in the middle of the street, in her pink sparkly shoes and stared at the ground. In the rush of the moment, standing on wet pavement, I wasn’t sure what she was talking about.
“Right there,” she said pointing toward a circle of oil on the slick street. It’s true, it did look like a rainbow.
I scooped her up and told her how much I love her.
There was so much in that moment that made me happy. Walking with her tiny hand in mine, a “rainbow” I would have totally missed if not for her noticing beautiful in something ordinary and giving myself the space to lean into what was in front of me.
A few months ago, Eliza was giving me the business every which way I turned. She didn’t want to get dressed, comb her hair, eat dinner, or do anything I asked her to do. I used my stern voice, she stomped her feet. I tried making her do the things I wanted, she cried, kicked and screamed. I tried ignoring her antics, she cried, kicked and screamed some more.
One night I told Seth that I understood how the parents of teenagers were able to send their children to college because if those parents felt the way I did – used, run over, in the center of whatever storm she happened to be dealing with at the time – it might be nice to just have a little break from her and give her a chance to take it all out on someone else. He told me to remember to be the grown up.
In those weeks, I had pulled away from her hoping that giving her a little space would help. It only made it worse. So one day, I leaned in. I asked her if I could read her book. She sat beside me on the couch and curled into the curve of me. She seemed a little relieved and I realized she’d needed me. I couldn’t see it through her fury but she’d wanted me to reassure her and I had, in many acts of stubbornness, drawn lines in the sand.
In my need to reign in her behavior I’d missed the whole point. Slowly, we’ve rebuilt something we lost during that time. Eliza started kindergarten and the anticipation of that big shift in her world might have been the cause of all of huff between us. Who knows. But now, we’re on the same team again and we both know it.
I leaned in. She did too. And I’ve found with her close to me, I don’t have to hold on so tight.