Inspired by this post by SWMama over at Adjustment [and] Disorder I am going to tell you about a moment yesterday when I was, in my estimation, an exceptional parent. For real. But first let me just say that I don’t know why it is so hard to write about the good stuff — the things I do well, the moments when I do feel competent. Maybe the the little mommy demons that chant “You’re doing it wrong! You’re doing it wrong!” have had too much say lately. So, to those pesky little doubting demons I say, You can suck it! and present to you a moment in exceptional parenting.
Zoey and I are walking Gilmore to a nearby pond. Zoey is in her stroller, clutching her naked doll in one hand and stick of string cheese in the other. Gilmore prances next to us, pleased and proud, I think, to be out walking next to the stroller. Zoey is giddy, anticipating my next question. “What sound does an owl make?” I ask. Zoey bangs her doll on the stroller tray in excitement. Her tiny voice breathes, “Hooo! Hoo!” I praise her and smile a big smile even though she can’t see me. “What does a dog say?” I prompt. “fffff! ffff!” She answers. I love this answer. She can’t quite make a ‘w’ sound yet so she leaves off the ‘woo’ part of ‘woof’. “That’s right,” I tell her. “You are soooo smart!” We go through all the animal sounds — cat, duck, monkey, snake. We stop and admire flowers, grass, trees. Even an old soda can someone left in their yard. “Oh!Oh!” says Zoey. She is so amazed.We arrive at the pond. Gilmore is released from his leash and Zoey is unbuckled from the stroller. While Gilmore squirms around on his back and sneezes Zoey and I squat in the grass looking at ants. “Oh!” Zoey says again. Her mouth is perfectly round. “Ants”, I say, “Ants.” Zoey toddles over to a tree and gently touches the bark. I find a stick for Gilmore and throw it a little ways into the pond. He runs, jumps, and swims after it. Zoey starts. She shakes her head and waves her hands. She does not want him in the water. “It’s OK” I sooth her and I rub her back, “It’s a game.” Gilmore drops the stick at my feet, triumphant. He shakes his yellow coat and silver beads of water land on our arms and face. Zoey giggles. I throw the stick again. Zoey shrieks, giggles some more. Again and again. Sometimes laughing so hard she topples over into the grass. Once, she falls right into my arms. I catch her perfectly.On the walk home we sing. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Winnie the Pooh. Sittin’ in my Highchair from Gymboree. Zoey bobs her head and waver her arms. She sings out, “La la la LAAA!” We get louder and louder. I don’t care who hears. As we walk towards home, the sun, gentle for August, coats our hair and skin. I imagine that we all feel . . . full. Totally ourselves. Mother. Daughter. Dog.