Last night I put Zoey to bed. We read some Harry Potter and then we sat in the dark listening to “The Rainbow Connection” by Sarah McLachlan. I sat in rocking chair while Zoey was curled like a comma under her fleece blanket on the bottom bunk. Her blue nightlight glowed softly in the corner and her dolls were perfectly arranged on the floor next to her bed. Zoey gripped two lovies in the crook of her arm – a pink owl and a slouchy panda bear. I looked around Zoey’s room. On the top bunk sat a large purple and pink unicorn, a witch’s hat, and Zoey’s soccer uniform (which she lays out every Monday for the following Saturday). From the walls hung one of her finger paintings, a picture of Mickey Mouse, and over the windows, two yellow and pink curtains I sewed for her. A mobile of our solar system spun lazily over our heads, all the planets in shadow. On the floor were various books, an old magazine with a picture of an arctic fox on the cover, and a pair of crumpled footie pajamas that hadn’t yet made it to the hamper. I rocked softly and wished with all my might for Zoey to have a happy life. A life in which she finds her place. A life in which she loves and is loved by others. A life that feels cozy and safe and wholly her own.
I sat there rocking and wondered what it is that my precious daughter will remember. Will she remember how we sat side by side for three hours, each making a holiday wreath? How our shoulders bumped as I reached to glue down a piece of yarn for her? Will she remember dancing in the kitchen to “Proud Mary”? And how we sat on the living room floor together – me combing out the short fluffy fur on her stuffed animals and her affixing brightly colored and fiercely knotted ribbons? Will she remember my apple pie and how I always make a little crust heart with her initials to put on top?
Or will she remember how often before dinner all the little frustrations get to me – everything magnified by fibromyalgia pain? Will she remember how I was snappish and couldn’t be pleased? Will she remember Demetri and I exchanging words in the too bright light of the hallway – the exact tone in which we hurled feeling at each other about something so small that it shouldn’t have been given voice in the first place?
Or maybe she’ll remember it all. Maybe she’ll remember the shadows and the light. Maybe growing up here will leave a few tender places, small little bruises on her heart. Maybe growing up here will help her blossom like the first thick, strong flower of spring.
When I get right down to it, I don’t wish for my daughter to go to Harvard or for her to be famous or rich. I wish for her to have inquisitiveness and strength. I wish for her to have enough. To laugh easily. To love and be loved. And I wish for her to always want to come home.