In our hallway hangs a poem. It’s right above the time out chair. It wasn’t placed there intentionally, there just happened to be a nail from the previous owners on that little bit of wall space. As for the time out chair, our oldest and only at the time, thought the spot was perfect for her great grandmother’s telephone bench. So the two lined up perfectly and four years later they still keep each other company.
The poem is something my dad wrote me for my 18th birthday, the summer before I started college. The title reads: Magic Years and it tells of my misadventures as a child. A piece about my roller skating accidents, melted Popsicles grins, being afraid of thunder and lightning and even a quick tale of me running into a parked truck on my bicycle. But the last paragraph reads, “If you are as lucky as your Mother and I there will one day be a child that’s the apple of your eye and in distant reflections through laughter and tears you too will discover that magic in those years.”
I remember trying to read it out loud and getting about halfway through and crying. I couldn’t finish reading it and had to hand it off to my dad, but he was just as choked up and handed it off to my mom who had to finish it for us. You see, my dad and I do our best to hide those emotions, the ones right on the surface, heaven forbid someone see it as weakness… so we act tougher, work harder and do our best not to say what’s on our mind for fear we’ll look weak behind our tears. It’s easier to write it down and save the tears for private. Daddy says it’s the Irish in us. Isn’t that funny? If you have perceived weaknesses blame your ancestors. (He’s smart like that.) ;)
Present day; tonight actually, I had a glimpse of that magic. While watching a movie with my husband I heard something in the distance. At first it sounded like the background noise from the movie. It was soft crying which didn’t fit and it sounded too much like our youngest. I had him pause the movie and I went in to check on her. She’s been running a fever the last few days and though she acts fine during the day, at night things start to hurt; her throat, her head, just a tough time. So I went in to her room and noticed that both her sister and brother were still fast asleep. How was that possible? But then daddy didn’t hear it either. It’s like that cry was meant just for me.
I crept in the room trying not to wake the others and start the bedtime routine over, but 70-year old wood floors aren’t made for creeping. By the time I got to her side of the bed and my eyes had adjusted to the darkness I notice her stuffed animal beside the bed so I placed it back in her arms. She squeezed it to her chest, never opening her eyes, yet still crying. So sad to hear and see. I repositioned the covers and pulled the comforter up to her chin and her sisters, still the sad crying. So I did what any mom would do, I brushed her hair off her forehead, used my lips to check for fever (there was none) and I gave her a kiss followed by a soft whisper in the ear that I loved her.
Before I could straighten up she had stopped crying. And the other two, whom I hadn’t noticed before shifting and moving, had stopped. The room was silent except for the slow spin of the ceiling fan and the soft breathing of three kids. It was magic. Not the silence we parents plead for after a long day of yelling and fighting, but the kiss. One simple kiss on a forehead followed by a reassuring whisper of I love you and the room stilled.
When I went back in to the kitchen to let my husband know all was well and to take the hot tea he had made me I relayed the story. I ducked my head behind my hair when the tears started to fill my eyes. “There are so many days I think the stress of raising kids is too much. And then God sends me a reminder that the rewards outweigh the work.”
In our kitchen there is a sign that reads: “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” This will be a moment I remember. The day wasn’t special, what I was doing before and after I will quickly forget, but that moment when I realized that a simple kiss and whispered I love you held magic in the eyes of my daughter… that will be a moment I hold on to forever.