You’re mad at me. Or at least you were when I took this photo from a good distance away. Maybe I wouldn’t buy a game for you on my phone or maybe I told you we couldn’t have a treehouse because there’s not a tree big enough in our yard or maybe I gave you the wrong after-school snack on the wrong colored plate with the wrong fork. I can’t remember anymore. I sort of annoy you more and more these days and I’m starting to get a sense of what the tween years will be when you‘re twice as old as you are now.
I did a weird dance and you softened. A smile crept over your face and you forgave me for the disappointment that I had caused. You can usually be coaxed into laughing and moving on pretty easily, but you have a memory a mile long and my mistakes and your disappointments get catalogued every day. You’ll reach in and grab an old one when I least expect it. You’ll remind me of that one time I did that one thing and lost my temper, or that time that I said we would do something that we never did. And damn, the guilt comes at me hard when you do that.
But it goes two ways, your elephant’s memory. You’ll remember that time where we ran in the rain and soaked our clothes clean through, or that time that we jumped on my bed for so long we thought it might break. And those times where you’re rediscovering these moments that have been clouded in my mind by to-do lists and deadlines and dwelling on my own mistakes and disappointments, those are the times that I feel like I’m doing all right by you.
These moments where you’re mad at me or I’ve caused you disappointment, right now they’re short – but they’ll grow longer as the years go on. Moments will turn into minutes and minutes into days. And my silly dancing won’t be able to fix it and you’ll be cataloging for your future memoir, but I hope you’ll always know, as you do now, that everything I do is to keep you safe and show you that you are loved. Even when it makes you mad. Even when you’re disappointed. Even when I’m the meanest in the whole world. It’s always love, my darling girl.