I spend a lot of time with my daughter. Some of it is with the rest of our family, some with her and my son, and some with just me. In the latter case, however, I'm usually working, so it's not really quality time. Hence, we don't really get to spend much time with just the two of us.
Everly is eighteen months old. That being the case, some would say we don't need to spend any time with just the two of us. Some would say that she's too young for it to matter and that I should reserve such ideas for the future. But, when I was on maternity leave, my husband went back to work and my son went to daycare, the result being that Everly and I actually spent almost all of our time together. She was just a newborn then, obviously, and I was a nervous mother. Outside of that, though, we had a grand old time together. My fondest memory of that time--which really does go by fleetingly -- was her sleeping or snuggling with me while I read a book (one I have yet to finish).
These days, amid my busy work schedule, caring for the rest of my family, my dogs and my home, I feel like my daughter is growing up right under me. You know how they say it all goes by so fast? Well, with the world as crazy and packed as it is, that's exactly what happens. I pass some of that busy time dreaming of a day when I can take off and hang out with Everly for a girls' day out. That day will come, I can assure you, but I want to wait until I have perfected what, exactly, that day would be.
Naturally, the morning of such a day would find us both sleeping in. This simply does not happen in reality, as most parents will agree. If my son isn't up, my daughter is, and if neither of them (for some miraculous reason) is awake by 5:30 AM, the alarm starts blaring. In this scenario, however, we're both well-rested. We get up, I change her diaper, and we settle down to have some breakfast and play on the computer. (My husband is taking care of our son and they both slip out quietly for the day). I have coffee and yogurt with raisins (my favorite). Everly has the same. Well, minus the coffee.
After a little bit of just hanging out, while we listen to the blues channel on television -- my daughter really loves it -- we then may take a shower, or not. Sometimes it's relaxing to also get clean, but I see us getting a move on while the weather is nice and before her nap. The day, of course, is 75-80 degrees, partly cloudy with no chance whatsoever of rain. Also, absent is that crazy wind of late. We hop in the car, fortified with snacks and drinks and plenty of diapers, and head to the cemetery. The one near us, Green-Wood, is just beautiful, with a lake and, surprisingly, lots of animals. Everly divides her time between letting me stroll her and wandering on foot through the myriad little paths. And, yes, she is holding my hand.
We take a break by the lake for a well-deserved snack and probably some picture taking -- it really is just beautiful at Green-Wood Cemetery -- and then head back to our house for our nap. Yes, I said "our" nap, because when Everly goes down like the angel that she is (at least in this scenario), I get to sleep too. And it's delightful, for two solid hours. That may seem like a poor way to some to spend the perfect day with their child, but let's be realistic for a moment. Kids that age need sleep, and any parent with a kid that age probably needs it even more. Plus, once we wake up and re-motivate there is still plenty of time left for other activities.
When that time arrives, we head out for a lunch on the town. Most likely this ends up occurring at our favorite diner, where we were frequent visitors even before our kids were born. I get an avocado melt on toasted rye (my favorite treat) and Everly has silver dollar pancakes, eggs, and whatever vegetables move her. We split a cupcake for dessert. I let her pay the check, which really involves her handing the bill and the credit card to the person at the register. I check her math with the tip. (Not really.)
After that we head to either the carousel in the park or to the local bookstore. Since it's my fantasy, we do both. The carousel is without a line (naturally!) and we ride only horses that go up and down. I sit behind Everly so I can hold her as well as serve as an extra protective barrier in addition to her harness. No one takes our picture, but I don't care because it's just the two of us with our hair blowing in the breeze. Her hair has the softest, sweetest smell, one that I can't place. But, it's definitely her smell.
Once we've exhausted the loops of the carousel, we hit the bookstore. Naturally, we head straight to the children's section, which is on the basement level. Somewhere in there I grab an iced chai and Everly grabs a vanilla milk, and then we head to the hardbacks. I spring for a few of Everly's latest obsessions and perhaps a magazine for me, which, come to think of it, I will spend time pouring over with Everly anyway, as that is one of our favorite pastimes. We like to leaf through the pages and name the familiar objects we see. After another good snack in the cafe, we stroll our way back toward home, Everly most likely engrossed in said magazine.
Just as a side note, I do not take public transportation this day. Normally we do, but in my fantasy, we take the car, which in reality is pre-packed with everything we need. Also in my fantasy: no traffic whatsoever regardless of time of day.
Once home, we "pile up," as we call it in my family, and read our newest purchases together. Pretty much nothing makes Everly happier than sitting in my lap reading a book. We could read the phone book for all she cares, so long as we're together and reading. Thankfully, we do not read the phone book.
After reading time is over we prep for and eat dinner, just the two of us. I love sharing a meal with Everly, just the two of us hovering over a dish and enjoying each taste in it together. My son isn't much of an adventurer when it comes to food, but my daughter is. She'll try anything. This night, we do pad Thai and vegetables curry with sticky rice. It's my favorite dish, ever, but instead of getting it with my usual green curry I opt for something milder (although surprisingly my Everly loves spicy food. Actually, this is not so unusual -- I ate it constantly while I was pregnant with her).
Once dinner is over we get ready for bed. This normally involves changing into night time clothes, getting her bottle of milk ready, reading a little more, snuggling, and then eventually turning in. I sing to her, which she loves, and she sings along providing her own disjointed melody. Someone else is dealing with the dishes. With the lights out I rock her in my arms as I did when she was so very small, and feel joyous and sad all at once. It's that beautiful feeling a parents gets right before putting a nearly slumbering child down for the night, a twilight of emotions when everything in content and calm and unchanging, if just for that moment. I lay her down and she sleeps.
Then, I do what I always do. I get in bed and attempt to read, but am too tired to keep my eyes open; this time because it's been such a fun, fulfilling day. I'm out before I get through a page. I never do get to finish that book.
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