GUIZERIX: I must be doing something right

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

As any parent of a particularly precocious toddler is prone to do, I often question whether I’m “training her up” in the way she should go.

Typically, these moments come during moments I later reflect on with laughter, such as when I think of the embarrassing amount of times my daughter’s eaten goldfish crackers off the floor. Or let’s not forget the time she pulled her shirt over her head, pressed her little stomach against the glass of the cry room at St. Paul Catholic Church and yelled, “BELLY!” right as Fr. Rusty was delivering his homily.

Then there are the times we, like the fabled Icarus, toddler a little too close to the sun. (Yes, I’m using “toddler” as a verb and a noun, grammar police be gone.)

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Especially with preschool five days a week, the fit pitching abounds and new behaviors are learned, corrected and learned again.

However, for every day I go to bed exhausted from wrestling the 30-pound alligator that once was my baby, there’s a day like Monday when her actions made me realize her father and I are doing something right.

I blame this situation almost entirely on that blasted book, “I’ll Love You Forever,” by Robert Munsch, and on giving my little girl unfettered access to the bookshelf at bedtime. There she was, asking to “Read it, Mama?” with her big brown puppy-dog eyes. I was defenseless.

So, I pulled my little girl onto my lap and rocked her back and forth, back and forth, just like the book. I sang along to the song, and as the little boy and his mother got older with each page turn, I cried harder. About the time he turned 9, I realized I was a blubbering mess.

Then, my sweet girl did something entirely unexpected.

She turned around to face me, sitting on my lap, and asked, “Are you okay, Mama?”

I responded, “Yes, baby. I just love you so much.”

What she did next I wish I could’ve frozen in a jar to revisit over and over again. She wrapped her little arms around my neck and hugged me, tight. She whispered, “It’s okay, Mama. Don’t be sad. I’m here, I’ve got you.”

And then, she whispered ever-so-quietly, “I love you, Mama.”

I know there will be plenty more instances where she will be the typical toddler. As she grows older and I shift a little farther from the center of her world, she’ll threaten to break my heart more than once. I shudder to think of the day when God willing, she’ll grow up and leave me.

But at that moment, tucked in a rocking chair upstairs with my little girl, I got a glimpse of the compassionate, loving, empathetic person I’m lucky enough to call mine. Clad in mermaid pajamas with freshly combed hair, toes curled inside little white socks, I don’t think I’ve ever loved her more.

Then again, I say that daily.