in the eyes of my daughter

in the eyes of my daughter

My favorite memory of the fall was taking Grace to the fair last month. We didn’t leave the house until it was close to her bedtime. It was a special night, though, a night that marks the first of many Autumn family traditions to come, so we let her stay up late this time.

We arrive perpendicular to Main Street and park the car. We take her out of her car seat and plant her on her daddy’s hip. She never stays in her stroller these days, so we don’t make an attempt at it tonight. In the eyes of my daughter, there are too many miracles happening left and right to be looking in the same direction for too long.

It was a risk, we said on the way, “hopefully she will be too distracted by everything going on to think about being tired.” We start to walk across the street, and I see her eyes brighten. A police officer is waving walkers on across the street. In the eyes of my daughter, he is dancing.

We make our way to the food stands filled to the brim with funnel cakes and French fries and soft pretzels. Scents of grease and sweets welcome us. The people inside the trucks, stands, and trailers are shouting over all of the noise. In the eyes of my daughter, they are calling out to her. She squeals and waves.

We walk to the Ferris wheel. It’s bright and blinking and spinning. We’ve been waiting to show this to her, sure that if she has no interest in anything else, this will surely catch her attention. This is the moment. She throws her hands up in the air to grab it even though it’s a at least a few dozen feet in front of her and so high, far out of reach. In the eyes of my daughter, it’s big enough and close enough to touch. Yes, in her eyes, this spinning mechanical wheel is magical and beautiful and she could catch it and watch it do the same thing over and over again for hours and her amazement would never dwindle.

In the eyes of my daughter, everything is new. A stuffed animal comes to life. A balloon beckons her touch. Every book she sees needs to be read, every page touched, every picture studied. There is excitement in the unknown of peeking inside a messenger bag or opening a cabinet door. In the eyes of my daughter, the wind teases her and the raindrops fall only to tickle her nose. In the eyes of my daughter, beds are for jumping, shoulders are for resting her head, and hands are meant for clapping in joy.

I pray that I can see life through the eyes of my daughter. That I can drink in the mundane moments and savor them. To explore and to be inquisitive. To always be captivated by the light of a Christmas tree the way that she is. To dance and laugh – really laugh – with no sense of self-consciousness. To see an instrument and stop what I’m doing to make music and admire the sound, even when it’s off-key. To see eyes and smiles of people before seeing made conclusions. To wave ‘hello’ without hesitation or fear of rejection.

Instead, I fall short daily. Too little patience, too much on my mind. Not enough play time, too much housework to do. But when I ask myself, who am I in the eyes of my daughter, I realize I am comfort, warmth, love, silliness, and playfulness. I am inviting, her soft place to land. Her source of nourishment, her release after holding it all together. Her hero, her caught kiss, her encourager, her teacher. I pray I can be the person who is seen in the eyes of my daughter.

29

I wake up to “ba-ba” sounds coming from across the hall. 6:50am. Grace slept in… yes! It’s still dark outside and it’s chilly in our house. I roll over. Corey whispers, “Happy birthday” and gives me a kiss. I smile and make my way out of bed. I open Grace’s door and even though the sun hasn’t risen and her room is still dark, I can see her sleepy eyes and two-toothed smile. She’s bouncing up and down in her crib without lifting her feet, anxiously waiting for me to come scoop her up. I do, and she starts whispering ma-ma’s as we make our way back into our bedroom. I lay her down in our bed and climb in myself. The three of us are cozy for a moment, until Grace crawls over us both like we’re a playground. My favorite 15 minutes of the day.

Corey and I throw on jeans, get the baby dressed, and the three of us are out the door. He drives us into the city to pick up coffee. The man behind us in line at the cafe is holding one of those small foil balloons that belong in a vase of flowers and Grace cannot stop staring at it. I fall in love with how new everything is to her. I make a mental note to pick one up for her next time we’re at the grocery store.

We stop to pick out donuts on the way home. I order one with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. Corey tells the cashier I’ll also have the pumpkin streusel flavor. It is my birthday, after all. I make big eyes and act like that’s just crazy, but I eat both, happily. Corey has Grace sitting on his knee and I let her try some icing, but she is more concerned about her next banana puff. We finish and leave, a sugar haze around us.

Corey holds my hand the entire drive back in the car. Grace goes down for a nap when we get home and I collapse on the couch, closing my eyes in thankfulness. I open them and ask Corey to come sit next to me. We talk, look at home furnishing ideas for the investment property, and just exist next to each other. Never mind the dishes, the toys on the floor that we so often trip over, or the half-completed first birthday invitations and envelopes I have strewn across the ottoman. The mess can stay today.

Maybe this isn’t a birthday morning that some would call extraordinary. To me, it is magic. I want to soak in and remember every detail. When I turned 27, I was heartbroken. When I turned 28, I dreamt of this day.

How grateful am I that no matter how much I change year to year, God NEVER does. He is with me today just as much as he was in years past, and not any less than he will be in the future. 27 was a time to lose, a time to embrace. 28 was a time to heal, a time to plant. I don’t know what 29 will bring, but he does. Maybe it will be a great year by definition; maybe it will be the most heartbreaking yet. Regardless, I trust him and am thankful for this season of peace.

For everything there is a season, and a tie for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8