Quality time

My favorite girl and I had a busy weekend. While my #1 son was busy with baseball, she and I went to a baby shower for my cousin, then hit the Galleria to find a very special birthday gift, and took a trip to our favorite gourmet grocery store. While normally I’d rather open a vein than go to the Galleria on a Saturday afternoon, my girl’s unbridled enthusiasm made up for the fact that I felt like I was back in NYC with the crush of humanity all around us. No matter; my girl soaked it all in and enjoyed every minute of it. Once we left the mall and pressed on to the smaller yet still significant crowd at Central Market, my little foodie was in her element and wanted to sample every piece of produce and taste the fresh-ground cashew butter and indulge in the specialty Easter candies in the bulk bins. She wasn’t nearly as interested as I was in examining the sparkling wine section, so she forged on ahead to the condiment aisle to peruse the soy sauce (her latest food obsession).

On my own, I would have raced through the store, grumbling at those inconsiderate enough to leave their carts unattended in the middle of the aisle. I would have thrown items into my cart and crossed off my list with much haste. (I still would have lingered in the sparkling wine section, but quickly.) With my girl, however, I was reminded to slow down and savor the experience. After all, it wasn’t about filling my cart with groceries as much as it was about experiencing the store’s bounty with my fledgling foodie.

After we saw and sampled everything there was to see, we pushed our canvas-bag-laden cart to the car. Instead of collapsing in a heap in the passenger seat, my girl hauled her share of the bags from the cart into the trunk, chatting away. Once she returned the cart and buckled up, she looked at me and smiled the sweetest smile and said, “I really like spending quality time with you.” She went on to say that she doesn’t really understand when she hears girls say that their moms drive them crazy or embarrass them (although that’s probably coming). She said that just doesn’t make sense to her, because she enjoys hanging out with me.

What a compliment. And an honor. Huge. On both fronts.

A few days later, we ran errands after school, including a trip to the garden center to pick out some spring color for the front flowerbeds (those of you still bogged down in winter, feel free to curse; I would. We’ll revisit this topic in August or September or October when it’s still hot enough to break a sweat walking through the house despite the $600/month AC bill). Of course my girl wanted to help plant the flowers, too, and had ideas on how to best mix and match the different colors for maximum effect. IMG_0957

Again, I would have quickly divided up the flowers, dug too-small holes, and jammed the plants in, just to be done with it. Not my girl, though; she carefully raked the mulch away with one tool, dug the hole with another, and gently broke up the roots before gingerly placing the plant in its new home. IMG_0962As if that weren’t enough, she lovingly watered each plant with the gentlest of streams from her tiny watering can. IMG_0958

As I stopped myself from telling her to skip the watering because the sprinkler system would douse the new plants in the morning, I could feel the universe trying to tell me something. When the universe tries to tell me something, I stop my busy-body ways long enough to listen. “This,” the universe said. “This is what it’s all about.” IMG_0959

I know in my rational brain that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. IMG_0961But I don’t work that way, and am continually smacking my head up against this conundrum. IMG_0962However, as my girl and I finished planting just as the sun slipped down even with the horizon, leaving trails of pink and orange to match the flowers we’d just planted, I heeded the universe’s message and stopped long enough to notice the stunning colors of the sunset. To inhale the sweet scent of the purple stock. To watch the drops of water pool and drip, one by one, from the newly-planted flowers. To appreciate that my girl wants to hang with me. To give thanks for the fact that we both find satisfaction in a job well done.

This. This is what it’s all about.

And I appreciate it. Especially in light of the fact that a couple of years ago, I struggled to imagine doing something so simple yet so satisfying with my girl. A comedy of errors post-surgery ensured that anything that could go wrong would go wrong, and a relatively simple, early-stage cancer diagnosis turned ugly with a hard-to-diagnose post-surgery infection. She was just 8 years old when I was diagnosed, and even then possessed a wisdom that belied her youth. While my #1 son fretted internally and worried about my survival rate, my girl knew that we would get through that perilous journey. With a wisdom that still belies her youth, nearly 3 years post-cancer, she reminds me that This. This is what it’s all about. Running errands together. Sampling yummy food and picking out new things to cook. Planting flowers with the utmost care. This.

As we headed back into the house last night after our gardening was done, she did it again: she told me that she’s really glad we spent that quality time together. I’m humbled and honored again. Would she say this had I not been picked in the cancer lottery? Would she appreciate the time we have together had it never been threatened? Knowing her, probably so.

We washed the dirt and grime off our hands, vying for the lion’s share of the faucet stream, laughing and chatting about which flower is the prettiest, which will grow the biggest. And this morning, as we backed down the driveway en route to school, my girl told me to stop. I figured she had forgotten something, and as I put the car in park I waited for her to leap out and run back into the house. Instead, she didn’t move.

“What did you forget?” I asked. “Nothing,” she said. “I just want to look at the flowers for a second.”

This. This is what it’s all about. IMG_0952

 


21 Comments on “Quality time”

  1. mmr says:

    That one brought tears to my eyes!

  2. jbaird says:

    What a heart-warming post! And I just love the photos of garden flowers. xo

  3. Eddie says:

    I am very happy to hear that the little chef is helping you slow down and enjoy the journey. She is a truly special kid with a wise way about her. She is a good and nurturing gardener as well. You had me tearing up by the end.

    • She is nurturing, Ed; that’s a perfect way to describe her. I like to think that a little bit of YaYa lives on in her (she sure didn’t get the nurturing gene from me!).

  4. Yes: This. Is. What. It’s. All. About!

    And yes, your girl would still think you were the cat’s PJ’s, even without the Big C. She is that special. And so are you!😉

  5. Wendy Langley says:

    You and Macy are defining sunshine in the dictionary of life. Makes me smile! (No, that was not a tear!)

    • Love this, Wendy! I’ve always been a fan of the dictionary and am somewhat sad at it being replaced by an online version, but now I have your version as well and am smiling at the idea that M and I are defining sunshine!

  6. your cup doth truly runneth over…your heart must swell with such love and gratitude for such a memorable time with your girl. you wrote about it so beautifully, what we all need to remember at times like what you and your girl had. breathe it all in until it oozes out our pores, the joys of simply being together, bound with love, enhanced with all our senses piqued by nature’s beauty and the gorgeous, pulsing gift of being in the moment with one we adore. joy…sheer joy.

    love, XO,

    karen, TC

  7. David Benbow says:

    As you well know, I truly admire your ability to draw us into your world with the words you use. This is one of my favorite pieces. Ever. Someday I hope to meet your favorite girl. Cheers to you both.

  8. Bruce Kramer says:

    Yup! Just a you betcha from MN and the snowy north.

  9. Jody Hicks says:

    Well, I had the blessing of raising four terrific boys, but I guess I really did miss out not getting to raise a girl like that. I sure know I’m missing out on hardly ever getting to see her. This brought tears to my eyes and a choke in my throat. Please give her a big hug for me when she gets home from school today, with much love from Gramma.

  10. Okay. I’m teary eyed. Your post is so lovely, Nancy. In reading your wonderful relationship with your favourite girl (who is so lucky to have those feelings blogged out, to be kept so long as the internet exists), it made me think of my mother – and maybe one day, my daughter.

    Thanks for the reminder of what it’s all about. And for the sentimental tears. ~Catherine

  11. Meg says:

    Oh, my! How wonderful. Just bask in the experience, slowly!

  12. nancyspoint says:

    Lovely and heart warming post, Nancy. Days like the one you described are treasure days. This is what it’s all about for sure. And I’m quite envious of anyone who’s planting stuff already. We still have a foot of snow…Thanks for sharing.

  13. […] is redefining success on her Where We Go Now blog while The Pink Underbelly  knows just how to define success, a lesson she learns while sharing some mother/daughter time and […]


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