When I imagined having kids, when Isaac was a little fellow growing in my belly, I thought of all the things I would teach him. First words. Tie shoes. Throw a ball. Blow kisses. So many things I would pass on to our baby.
Now that I'm 10 years and four kids into this parenting gig, one of the things that continually surprises and amazes me is all that they teach me. I appear to be a slow study because I need to relearn the same lessons over and over, but I am fortunate to have wonderful and patient teachers.
I love life. I mean, I drive with my head hanging out the window, panting like a dog, during lilac season just to fully experience the fleeting, sublime aroma of lilacs. But I also rush. I get into moods where I hurry along and look down at my never-ending to-do list rather than around at the beauty that is staring me in the face.
Audrey and I took a bike ride on Sunday. We would be biking along and all of a sudden she would say, "Charge!" and we would stand up and pedal for all we were worth. We leaned our heads to whichever side of the road had the most lilacs. We biked through the sprinklers. It was an experience best shared with an exuberant little girl like Audrey.
We were about to turn onto our street when Audrey saw more sprinklers ahead. She hesitated. I asked, "Do you want to go through those sprinklers, too? I'll wait here and watch you." She gladly bolted ahead and after she'd gone through two sprinklers they automatically turned off. "Well, at least I got to go through two of them," she shouted back to me before hopping off her bike to inspect something on the ground. She biked back and said she picked something up, but didn't want to show it to me yet.
As we walked our bikes up the driveway, Audrey said, "That was the best bike ride in the history of the world. . . Or at least since I've been alive. . . Because there have been a lot of bike rides in the entire history of the world." Then she said, "I picked this leaf up and it was so beautiful because it had sparkly dew on it. Well, not dew, you know, but water from the sprinkler. You can't really see it now since I biked so fast and it blew off." She thought for a while. "Can leaves go in the freezer?" I answered that they could and asked what she had in mind. "I'm going to sprinkle some water on it and then freeze it so it stays that way. I'll have to freeze it flat though." I told her I thought it was a great idea and it would be fun to see what happened.
How can I rush through life, pass beauty by, ignore the simple wonders in front of my nose, when I have this beautiful, articulate, wonderful teacher showing me the way every day?
It's Audrey's birthday today. June 12, 2006. 6:08 am. Two days late and less than four hours of labor because once she decided it was time to enter the world, she was not going to waste any time. She is eight. She is one of my life's most treasured gifts. And now you have a little glimpse why.
She sees the wonder of this world and breathes it deep and holds it in her soul. She shares it with everyone around her who has the patience to listen. She is not perfect. None of us are. But she is the perfect daughter for me and every day, every single day, in spite of the hard junk that happens and the sassy tone she has been known to take, I thank God for her presence in my life. I thank God for the gifts she gives me just by being Audy-boo.
Every night before bed, after we pray, but before her lullaby, I tell her,
I love you when you laugh,
when you are sad,
when you are angry,
when I don't understand you.
I love you because you are who you are.
And it's so very true.
And I hope she never, ever forgets it. Even when her tucking in days are done, I hope the words of reassurance, acceptance, and love echo in her being.
Happy birthday, sweet Audrey.