Thursday, February 13, 2014

These moments will be lost in time, like tears in snow

Like any family, we have our good days and our bad days. On paper, this is a bad day. A solid foot of snow on top of the stuff that was already there. (Up to seven more inches coming overnight!) Another day for which neither Jen nor I will get paid. Another day of school missed for Lily, who was loudly proclaiming that she was booorrrrrrreeeeddddd!!! by seven a.m. I'm achy and sore and just worn out.

And yet...

Jen and I shoveled in shifts, with one of us inside while the other was outside doing the shoveling. Jen took a morning shift, and Lily and I made her some pancakes. We used some of the lemon-pepper chocolate in the pancakes and then surprised mommy with breakfast in bed.

One of the very first things about Jen with which I fell in love was how enthusiastic she gets about some things. From the very first day I met her, I thought she had the most beautiful eyes and I love the look she gets in them when she gets excited. We brought her the pancakes and she pretended to be surprised (but seriously, a grown woman does tend to be suspicious when her husband and daughter hustle her back into bed at eight a.m.) and she got that expression as she tasted the chocolate and the wonderful machine behind those remarkable eyes buzzed and whirred as it tried to figure out what that flavor was.

And I was happy, and I told Lily that making mommy happy makes me happy, and she said it makes her happy too. It's nice to see your good traits reflected in your kids. And we were talking later in the day, and I asked Lily what are good traits for the President to have. She stopped to think and she was really turning it over in her head. "Patient..." she said, "and not shy...generous...and nice...and good with crowds." She got that same faraway look that Jen gets.

And even later, when Jen was taking a quick nap after her second round of snow shoveling, I was watching a movie with Lily. (Lemonade Mouth, surprisingly good.) She had seen it before. Now, the thing Lily hates above all is seeing someone embarrassed. She knew such a scene was coming up and she looked away, as she always does. Except this time, she watched the reflection of the scene in my glasses. Jen will sometimes do the same thing for frightening scenes in scary movies.

I was suddenly overcome by such an inexpressible feeling a love for her. Kids are the sum of their parents, of both the experiences we share with them and of those traits they biologically inherit from us, both for good and for ill. Lily had certainly never seen Jen do this; she would have never been in the room while we were watching a movie that would cause Jen to do it, but whatever combination of nature and nurture in Jen's character that had caused her to think of this tactic was also present in Lily.

Like I said, on paper, this was a bad day. Too often, we concentrate on the needs of the now, and the snowfall and the shoveling and another cancellation all fuse together and we just call it a bad day that's the only thing we remember about it.  But I think I'm going to carry this moment with me for the rest of my life. If I'm someday old and senile and I'm calling Lily's granddaughter by her name in a nursing home somewhere, I'll still have that moment.

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