(mostly written last Thursday)
Lunchtime on Thursdays begins at 2:00.
Of course, I eat lunch before that. I eat as I work, grabbing bites between keyboard taps and mouse clicks. And then at two, I punch out and go ... away.
Some days are for piano practice. Some are for writing. Today is for writing.
As I walk the few hundred feet to the little pub where I write, I call Anne’s sitter, Angela, to see if Anne is having a good day.
“We’ve come to town!” Angela’s familiar English accent. “Shall we come for a visit?”
Shall we come for a visit?
“Of course!” I can’t get the words out fast enough. A little part of me rebels—“But you’re supposed to write for an hour today!” But, on this busy day when I’ll be working until 8:00 p.m., I know writing will have to wait.
My heart soars. My little daughter is coming to see me!
I walk into the pub to find two moms meeting for coffee, their little ones in tow. I get into a conversation with them as I wait for my own coffee and learn that we have a few things in common besides being moms of children under twenty pounds.
Then I get my coffee and go to my table to write for a few minutes before my own seventeen-and-a-half-pounder shows up.
I hear them talking, these moms. About the meals they prepare for their children. About how they’ve been teaching them Pat-a-Cake and how this child is saying this or that child is doing that.
I bite my lip and keep writing, or try to. All those long hours of being able to watch a child grow ... I’m missing it. And I hate missing it. I hate not being there for Miss Anne. I hate the feeling that I’m missing her life.
I keep looking at the door, waiting. Half of me afraid she won’t be here in time, and that I’ll have to run back to work just as she’s coming in the door.
Thankfully, that doesn’t happen. She, Angela, and Angela’s little boy, Mo, arrive with a half-hour to spare. Anne sees me and, grinning wide, begins to run, arms outstretched. I take her in my arms and hold her close, smelling her hair and her skin, feeling like it would be the most natural thing in the world for her to melt into me, to return to her first home on this earth, the womb, where I can hold her closer than close, all day long.
It turns out Angela knows one of the moms I’ve been talking to—they see each other at the library and the playground occasionally—so she chats with the two moms while I hold and cuddle Anne. My little girl is hungry for milk, so I nurse her in the darkness of the pub. I watch her little jaw and cheeks move as she sucks, stroke her blond hair with my hand. Her eyes are closed. She looks so peaceful. This is the image I’ll take back to work with me today.
Too soon, it’s time for me to head back to the office. I hug Anne long and tight, hand her off to Angela, and turn to put my jacket on. Anne complains and hold her arms out to me. Once my jacket is on, I take her back into my arms, glancing at the clock on the wall. Three minutes before I need to punch back in.
I set her down, and she walks toward one of the babies, curious. I tell the moms I’ll be in touch (I had them write down their names and e-mail addresses so we can plan a Saturday hike with children in the spring), squeeze Mo’s shoulder, and work out the final baby pick-up details for tonight with Angela.
And then I leave.
My heart breaks each time I leave her. But there is room for gratitude here. Even here. There is gratitude that ...
131. In Angela, Anne has a loving, devoted caretaker all day long while I work.
132. In three-year-old Mo, Anne has a best friend and a big brother.
133. I have a job, and a good one at that. I’m thankful for this because we do have debts to pay off, and not having a job is not an option for me, at least not for the time being.
134. We have health insurance. Thanks to my job, our health insurance is very good and very affordable—a big plus when your immediate family includes a toddler and an almost-50-year-old with a family history of heart disease.
135. Ninety percent of my job is writing and editing. So I like my work. Some days—a lot of days, actually—I love it.
136. Even though I’m not there, Anne still gets to do the things I would have her do: go to the library, play at the playground, be with other children, read until she can’t keep her eyes open any longer.
137. Like me, Angela is all about organic foods, Mary Poppins, minimal (if any) TV, and appropriate books and toys. So I don’t have to worry that she’s feeding bad stuff to my daughter’s body or mind.
138. Angela brings Anne to visit me at work. A lot. Can you think of a better way to take a work break, than to hold and nurse your own child? It sure beats hanging out at the water cooler, talking about football scores.
Is it any wonder that the name Angela means “angel”?
A few more things from this weekend:
139. acoustic pianos--what a wonder of technology!
140. purple (my favorite color)
141. running--how good it feels to move the legs, open up and work the heart and lungs, feel the blood coursing. Saturday’s long run was delayed until late Sunday night, but it was worth the wait.
142. the blue tips of fire flame
143. old quilts, handmade by Dan’s great-grandmother
144. planks of a wood floor lined up, no two grain patterns quite alike
145. the cello--how it instills the combined feeling of loss and comfort
146. the yeasty smell of bread baking
147. windows—giving us a glimpse of the cold outside while we stay warm and dry inside. Open in summer and spring so we can enjoy a bit of outside on days we must stay in.
There are so many benefits to writing down these gratitude lists throughout the week, to be posted each Monday. One of them is that, as I re-read them, I’m taken back to where I was when I first wrote them down.
Join me in writing a list, or read others' lists for today. Just click the "One Thousand Gifts" image below.
Happy Monday, everyone!