my Gracie girl

This was one of the most special days of my life.  One of our days at Disney, Grace and I snuck away to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We were both spellbound.  I have never been somewhere more crowded – honestly.  Harry Potter made walking through the Magic Kingdom seem like an amble on a deserted beach.  But still…. still.  It was absolutely magical.  We walked around Hogsmeade, bought a wand, drank Butter Beer, explored Hogwarts castle, and rode twice on the Flight of the Hippogriffs (above, photo taken from car in front of us).  I don’t like roller coasters and neither do either of my children (coincidence?  perhaps not) but this was a nice, not-scary ride that we went on twice.

In this photo I see sheer joy radiating from Grace.  And from me.  We were both enchanted by the world of Harry Potter brought to life, but I know that part of the happiness was sharing it with each other, and only each other.

I’m extra aware, lately, of how short the time grows in which Grace will always, without question, choose my company.  She wants to be with me all the time.  This past weekend, after a Friday sleepover she was tired and weepy on Saturday evening.    When Matt and I left she clung to me, crying, asking me not to go.  To assuage her, she asked me to list how many nights in a row I’ll be putting her to bed starting on Sunday night.  These moments can be intensely frustrating for me, but I try to remember that soon enough I will miss them.  I’ll be nostalgic for the time – now – when I am a balm for all of her troubles. For the time – now – when a kiss genuinely helps a bruised knee and an extra cuddle truly does chase away bad dreams.

Sunday morning Grace and I sat in her room and played with her American Girl dolls.  From across the room, she said, out of the blue, “Mummy?  Did you know that if you don’t use your imagination you lose it?”  I was startled and then agreed with her, thanking my own mother and instinct and whatever other influences have contributed to my distinctly under-programmed, free range parenting style.

Then we walked down to the stores a few blocks from us, doing errands, and she happily bounced down the street with her hand in mine.  I don’t know how much longer this will last, but I know it’s not that long.  In the afternoon, at the park, she kept calling my name, wanting to be sure I watched her do the monkey bars or launch herself into a full flip above the swings, holding the chains.  Sometimes it feels like Grace needs me witness something for it to be real.  She’s got a wicked, uncanny sense for when my attention wavers, too, and always, always calls me on it.  Often with tears.  This, too, can be daunting: I try to focus on her as much as I can, but sometimes I do falter.   Watching her react, I always feel a wash of emotion, guilt mixed with aggravation.

And then, just as quickly, the reminders come flooding in.  This will pass.  These days are numbered.  It won’t be long til she doesn’t want my attention at all, and I’ll want to go back and relive every single park afternoon when Grace’s voice, calling my name, echoed in the early spring air.

As I write this I hear two things in my head: Grace and Whit’s giggles, from next door, and these lines from Ben Folds:

Life flies by in seconds
You’re not a baby Gracie, you’re my friend
You’ll be a lady soon but until then….

One day you’re gonna want to go
I hope we taught you everything you need to know
Gracie girl

And there will always be a part of me
Nobody else is ever gonna see but you and me
My little girl
My Gracie girl


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16 Comments

  1. Posted April 5, 2011 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    This is all beautiful,
    Lindsey, and so very true.

    We met with a college counselor last week and the next morning, I felt like I’d been hit by a Mack truck. Repeatedly.

    These days, they go by… fast and furious. So glad you are drinking them in.

    XOXO

  2. Posted April 5, 2011 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    The important thing is not that your attention falters every now and then, but that you’re paying enough attention to realise the preciousness of this time at all!

  3. Posted April 5, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful post. My girls are still at the age where they like my company, too, but I can feel that my oldest is on the brink, soon to be gone to pre-teen confusion and then teen angst. These days are so precious!

  4. Posted April 5, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Lindsey, that photo — such sheer joy — made me cry even before I started reading your post. I can’t help but imagine your children one day reading these gorgeous love letters to them, and knowing to the depths of their souls how much you treasure them and every moment of their lives. This is just beautiful. As are you.

  5. Posted April 5, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I didn’t realize this was something we shared: a commitment to underscheduling our kids. I take comfort and validation in knowing you have decided on this too! Just this morning W asked why he was the only one in his class not on the soccer team, and I told him b/c he wanted to play baseball, to which he of course replied he wanted to do both. But goodness how I love those lazy Saturday mornings, when none of us have to run anywhere and we can all just BE, as a family. And when he’s playing “superheros & princesses” in the basement with S, he never seems to miss that he’s not being driven off to a game! xo

  6. Posted April 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Oh friend. Oh my I’m choking back tears. Love this photo of you two. And this post is pure magic–recapping so much of what I feel in my life with Abby. Kindred. And thanking my stars you’re over there, on this journey, with me. xo

  7. Posted April 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I love this photo. And this post. Thanks for the reminder to love these sweet times.

    Pamela

    PS I really want to check out the Harry Potter section of Disney World now!!

  8. Posted April 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Love this post. Just this morning my 7-year-old asked to sit on my lap in the midst of our busy morning work and school preparations. I started to lecture about schedules and then thought about the high school students I teach, who have not likely cuddled their mothers before school in many, many years. These days, though at times frustrating, are numbered and, like you, I will miss them when they go.

  9. Posted April 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    That sounds so amazing!! I can hardly wait for the day when I get to experience it with my sons.

    But here’s a little secret I know very well. She will ALWAYS need you, even when she says she doesn’t, she really does. And if it feels she is wandering, I am certain she’ll need you to be ready for her all the more.

    I promise.
    xo

  10. Posted April 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    So beautiful! I adore that photo of you. That memory with be special to her forever, along with all the little extra moments that two have shared together. You are an extraordinary parent.

  11. Posted April 6, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    These words rings true for me, Lindsey. In particular the idea that a kiss and a cuddle do really have transformative power. We are also in the same stage of hypervigilence about being witnessed, which is mostly sweet but somewhat overwhelming at times, too.

  12. Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I definitely needed to read this. I keep trying to appreciate the girls at their ages *right now*, but my lord, it is so hard and often times frustrating.

    Thanks for reminding me to enjoy today with them as my little girls. 🙂

  13. Posted April 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Well, considering I’m both a) a Harry Potter fanatic, and b) pregnant with my first daughter, this certainly hit home:) I can’t wait to meet my little girl and cherish the moments like these. For now, I’ll just remember to cherish the kicking in my tummy, since that too will be gone before I know it!

  14. Darshan
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    hi.. read your post after a long time…I really like the way you express your emotions… I try writing down my feelings but cant write more than two lines (sadly 🙁 )…

    Keep writing….

  15. Posted April 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to experience Harry Potter with my own daughter (she’s now just two). Sounds like a perfect day. And a perfect song.

  16. lora
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    i have a gracie girl too, thank you for reminding me to stop doing the dishes sometimes and just play with her. i LOVE the ben folds song but i can barely ever listen to it as it makes me cry…..every single time!