"Mmmm...I just...I don't want to!"
Well, how about this: did you get to go to the library today? Or what was the lunch room like? And did your teacher read you any books?
"Yeah. And we had an assembly in the cafeteria. That was our second one."
Second?! I didn't even know about the first! What did they talk to you about in the assembly?
"Well...they said...I don't want to tell you!"
This is what I do all day: think of ways to draw Mia out in conversation about her day. I want intricate, messy, specific details. I want to be walking by her side as she makes a new friend. I want to see her face when something excites her and hear her laugh at a new silly song. I want to be in the middle of it.
She comes home, happy and glowing with another victorious day. We only have a one-minute drive home, so my queries are limited. Once in the house, she hugs and kisses on her sister and they run off to play in the bedroom with dress-ups or dolls or colored pencils.
I wander around the kitchen, wondering where the day went. Or, more accurately, where the years have gone.
Around the dinner table, we chatter. With so few hours to have both of my girls together in the same space, I find myself less distracted. More present and willing to go slowly. More able to see how precious these girls are and how fleeting these moments will have seemed. The moments where potatoes are smashed into the wood-grain of our dinner table and booty-jokes are passed like hot buns (heh) across the kitchen. The moments where one girl needs more water and the other girl steals my next bite.
So we linger. Or, I linger. They shoot forward without regard for my wist.
Mia, did you get to see Laney today in the hallway?
"Yes! That made the FOURTH time! I've gotten to see her four times so far, and she smiles and waves EVERY time."
I am happy with this morsel. The moments are good. They are normal, but I appreciate them better these days. I hope to hold on to that feeling, not squandering it once we reach the middle of mundane. I smile and watch my girls eat their dinner. Then --
"Mom!" Mia's head shoots up from her plate as if she's had an epiphany. She's remembered something. "What was your day like?" she asks.
I'm taken aback. She thought of me? In the smash of new and fast and early, she thought of me. Maybe once. Maybe more.
And so I tell her. I tell her every last detail, in the hopes that opening the channels of conversation will feed her desire to tell me more. I explain my shopping trip and the weirdly-shaped fruit I saw at the store and the way I had to step around a mom trying to calm her child's tantrum. I tell her about how Lauren's preschool day happened. About the brave way her little sister didn't even need her blankie. I tell her about waiting in line at the after-school pick-up and being so excited to see my big-girl's pigtails bobbing as she waited.
I forget to mention the way the house was so quiet that I couldn't understand what my next task should be. I don't say that I wished I could come pick her up at lunchtime. I leave out the part about seeing her blankie abandoned on the kitchen floor (right where every good blankie belongs, you know) and stopping in my tracks to gather it into my arms and press it to my face and breathe-in the still-there smell of Mia.
And those are forgotten, for a moment. Because across the table from me, my daughter is reaching for my hand, and her sister is singing a new song.
And I don't want to miss that, now do I?