Honking cars, annoyingly slow drivers who seem to have no place to be but in my way, two people merging at the same time into the same lane in front of me. It’s the same 8am traffic on the same highways. This is exactly the route I used to take to work, only today it’s two years later and I have my daughter with me. We are headed to the Children’s Museum downtown, not far from my old office building. I’m listening to her music, not NPR or my recorded book reviews. We sing and do all the arm motions, me in time with the music and her slightly behind. We are having such a good time already.
I tell my daughter that this is the way Mommy used to drive to work every day. She is definitely too young to understand, but I feel it’s important that she know that I was someone before I was her mommy. After all, she knows that Daddy goes to work.
We park in the garage at the museum and as I’m unbuckling the car seat and putting the cutest little pink sneakers on my daughter, I am flooded with gratitude that I get to spend every day with her and watch her grow, that we can randomly on a Wednesday morning decide to come here to play. I remember the hours yesterday afternoon that we spent creating a little chalk village on the driveway complete with a road that she could drive her toy car around. She loved getting in and out of the car at different pretend chalk stores or the mailbox or friends’ houses, using my car keys and toddling around with her purse. I feel like the luckiest person to realize that these days are the most joyous years of my life and that I get to fully occupy each moment of them. I am present for my daughter’s adorable smiles and laughs or her cries if she falls.
She says “Fun Mommy,” meaning “Let’s go inside and have fun,” I think. We both shout, “Yay!” and I pick her up and kiss her soft cheeks and give her an extra squeeze or two or ten. I think she’s so beautiful and her eyes are dancing with excitement. Mine must be full of wonder as I watch her.