Friday, October 24, 2014

Mother Daughter Night

My daughter and I went out together this evening for a special mother-daughter night. Disney On Ice's show Frozen is in town and I purchased tickets months ago with a group of colleagues who have daughters around the same age.

I treasure these times with my daughter because it's usually not me who gets to take her to special events. At least, not on my own. My husband, as the stay at home parent, takes her to museums and sporting events and parks all the time. When I'm not at work we usually go out as a family. We set this evening up as a mother-daughter event though, which means I got to do something special with my little girl. We went out to dinner together, an actual sit down restaurant (although not a fancy one) and then to a 7:30 pm show. I kept the event a secret until we arrived and had the fun of hearing her exclaim in delight "It's a Frozen show!" when we walked into the venue.

The problem with a 7:30 pm show is that bedtime at our house is at 8:00 pm. At four years old my daughter's outgrown naps, except for the occasional dozing off while in the car. We sat down for the show and sure initially she was fascinated, all wide eyed intensity watching the performance. Sure enough though, by 8:00 pm  she was curled up in my lap. By about 8:30 she was covering her ears and hiding her eyes from the more dramatic special effects and by intermission she was very clearly no longer having fun. The noise and the heat were overwhelming, and then she remembered a scary scene coming up and then she asked to go home. So we left at the end of intermission. My goal was for us to have fun together, after all. Better to leave early, while it's still a good evening for both of us.

To be honest, I wasn't all that disappointed to leave. I'm not big on crowds and noise myself. As my dad says, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  And I am not in such a hurry for her to grow up. I like having a child I can take out to dinner, but I also like having a child who wants to cuddle up when she is tired. I know that all too soon she will not be so snuggly; she will have more stamina and will also be too grown-up to lean on mom that way. I want to enjoy it while I can.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Skyline Drive

I had all kinds of plans for today. I was going to spend the afternoon after church catching up on homework, writing one blog post and roughing out some other ideas, tidying up the house and yard and generally getting things done. It was a difficult past 2 weeks being on call and I'm feeling rather behind on my life. Yesterday was my day to play, with a lovely picnic with good friends in a beautiful winery and then some time with my husband and daughter out shopping for Halloween costumes together while we waited for my cell phone screen to be repaired. Today was going to be my day to catch up and get ahead.


It really was a beautiful day. Sunny, cool, just the right amount of breeziness. Who knows how many more beautiful days we will have this year anyway? Winter is coming soon. The leaves are beginning to turn and fall color doesn't last forever either. It just didn't seem right to waste a day like this indoors. It would have been ungrateful, I think.

So, instead of a well written, thoughtful blog post I have pictures and memories. My husband, daughter and I drove out to Skyline drive for the afternoon. There is a nice visitor's center near Front Royal, about 90 minutes from D.C., that has a number of short hikes and some outstanding views. My husband and I picked the shortest trail with some help from a ranger and we all set off with our water bottles and cameras. Our daughter examined leaves, recognized trail markers, picked up acorns and rocks (that she left behind: take only pictures, leave only footprints!), and banged sticks together to make music. She managed the entire hike, including some long uphill sections, under her own steam, which is a first for all of us. We enjoyed the day and each other. I'm still feeling behind on life, but at least I'm cheerful about it.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Already Home

We celebrated Break Fast with my husband's cousins this evening in their beautiful home in Maryland. It was a low key and lovely gathering over bagels, fish, and sweets to celebrate the end of Yom Kippur as a family. The kids were big enough to play more or less on their own this year, under the direction of the oldest girl cousin and her friend. The adults chatted and ate too much, wandering from room to room as little groups coalesced, conversed and dispersed over and over again.

Yom Kippur is an intense, serious, Holy Day. It' a time to reflect on how you are treating others, how you are honoring G-D, and how you are using the gifts you have been given. It's a time to pray, to abstain from food and to focus on G-D; a time to confess your wrongs and to receive his forgiveness. It's a fraught and holy time, so it is particularly sweet at its end to come together with family and food and fun, in the softer beauty of regular life.

When it comes down to it, this is the reason my husband and I moved our little family back to the East Coast. We lived in Texas when our daughter was born and we liked it a great deal. We had wonderful friends and Texas itself has many advantages; less traffic, friendlier people, lower cost of living. But despite all this we came back to the East Coast, where it is noisy and stressed and congested. We came back in order to come home.

We came home so that our little family could be part of our bigger family. We came home to celebrate Break Fast each year with our family, and see the cousins playing and not miss the children growing up. We came home so that my daughter can see her grandparents once or twice a month instead of once or twice a year. We came home to raise our child amidst the solid network of family and friends centered here, so that she would always feel that love and support. We came home so that our lives would be patterned with bright ribbons of community and tradition, each season flowing with a rhythm of observation and celebration.

Every once in a while my husband and I talk about moving. Some job or another in an interesting location crosses our email and we say "what if?" And then we attend a birthday party, or spend Sunday afternoon with our parents, or attend Break Fast, and we remember that we are already home.