Late morning, Sesame Street over, the deadlines looming but it’s not time to work yet. Breakfast time.
We’ve been eating our breakfasts just after 9 around here. Lu points to the clock on the wall at 8 and says, “Street!” We cuddle on the couch together — the couch of cracker crumbs and pens between the cushions and comfort — my feet on Danny’s lap, Lu sitting between us. She counts out the numbers as they appear on the screen, with this little lilting voice that knocks us out every time. We spent so much time wondering what her voice would sound like, and now here it is in the room.
We have to squint and tilt our heads sideways to see the tiny baby, all scrawny legs and ferocious cry, who arrived in our lives almost two years ago. Now, she climbs any surface that will stand still (including us, when we are patient). She swings from the bars on the playground, even the ones 10 feet up. She runs, with a purposeful stride. She is alive.
And every single time I hear that song on Sesame Street (“Sing, sing a song…”) I grow teary thinking about her life, and lean down my head to kiss her cheek. (Even when it’s Nathan Lane.)
Danny and I talk over her head sometimes, about the day, and the deadlines, the video we’ll film the next day, friends coming to visit. Sometimes she jumps down from the couch to dance, and we join her, feet skipping on the floor. She asks me to read her a book during the cartoons — she only likes live action. Of course, she adores Elmo.
When Big Bird says Toodle Oo! and Lu waves and says thank you to him, we turn off the television and walk into the kitchen together. Lu says “Bake!” and demands the chair be shoved against the counter. (All kitchen activities are baking to her.) We cook the quinoa, sliver the prosciutto, or dollop out yogurt and plop in raspberries from the garden. It’s one of the few times we three are all together, in the kitchen. It’s lovely.
The other morning, gloomy and grey as it had been for weeks, I noticed the apricots going soft on the counter. My parents brought a big container of them from Costco, for Lu to eat. She didn’t care that they weren’t perfectly ripe, or in season. She loved the sweetness on her lips. Not wanting to waste them, I sliced them into halves (“Circle!” Lu pointed.), drizzled them with honey, and tossed on some fresh tarragon. Into the oven they went until they sagged and slumped against each other, juices oozing.
Later, they made the best accompaniment to a small bowl of cold yogurt I have yet eaten.
The bright color of these roasted apricots was such a comfort against the continuous grey sky, when it seemed it would never be summer.
Then, yesterday, just as everyone predicted, it turned into summer. Summer in Seattle starts after the 4th of July.
Yesterday, Lu and I gathered raspberries, strawberries, and red currants from the garden, while Danny put together a waffle batter. Danny simmered the berries slowly into a compote. We moved everything onto the porch. Look at this photo. Need I say more?
Our lives aren’t perfect. In fact, it has felt a little like this perpetual winter we’ve been having inside my brain as well. I have too much on my plate and I am full. Deadlines pile up and no matter how hard I work I can never get it all done. Emails to be answered and trips to plan, plus a look at the bank account, roam through my mind at 3 am. There are always dishes to do. No matter how many times I run the washing machine, the laundry mound still grows. (We don’t have that many clothes, and most of them need replacing. Where does all this laundry come from?) As hard as I try, I can’t entirely wrap my mind around the fact that the house is always going to be cluttered with a toddler here.
Yesterday, I finally had the joy of hanging out with my friend Molly, whose poise and strange sense of humor always inspire me. In the couple of hours we saw each other, Lu went into the wading pool without a swim diaper (oh, the piteous cries when I told her we had to go. “Wa wa! Wa wa!”) and I didn’t have any dry ones in the car. We walked through the drugstore with a sopping wet child. Poor Molly had to nestle her feet among the coffee cups on the floor of the car that Danny keeps forgetting to bring inside the house. The bag of tortilla chips I brought for us to eat tore in half and spilled on the ground at the park. Some of the broken crackers landed in the pool of white bean hummus that had erupted out of the package and onto the bottom of my purse.
Sometimes I dream of a life as clean and expansive as this photo Molly took.
But then, I look at this photo of Lu eating breakfast on the porch, raspberries on her face and her feet on the table. And I laugh, again. I’ll take the clutter, the hummus on the bottom of my purse, the imperfection and dishes to be done.
I’ll accept it all, arms wide open, if breakfast looks like this.