I pulled our little red wagon down the tree-lined path, passing the pineapple fountain in search of the perfect shady spot to lay our blanket. A cool breeze floated in from the harbor, and seagulls soared overhead. I pointed out a dolphin among the gentle waves, but he descended back into the water before you could spot him.
You raced ahead to begin unpacking our picnic lunch, and your sister toddled along behind you, trying to keep up on the uneven terrain. All was calm as we sat side-by-side, munching on sandwiches and watching the passersby. A group of children on a class field trip played in the grass nearby, while others took their lunch break on benches with a view of the sea. Another girl practiced yoga, ear buds plugged into her ears, while an older gentleman patiently allowed his retriever to sniff the trunk of every tree.
Sticky honeydew juice dribbled down your sister’s chin, and you jumped up to stand, asking for permission to “run around on the grass and be silly.” I naturally obliged, and before long your sister was following suit, proudly clutching the weeds you carefully picked and thrust into her hand.
I watched you as you closed your eyes and tilted your head toward the sun, soft curls cascading down your back and your sweetly rounded cheeks turned up into a smile. I watched you and I wondered when it was that you became this person, this little girl who knows without a doubt that puzzles and coloring are the bees knees, that toots and burps are hilarious, that rain boots go with everything. A little girl who always makes sure her stuffed animal friends are wearing undies and jammies for bedtime, and trusts that giving a loved one a hug and a kiss will cure any ailment. A girl who needs a princess band aid for every bump, scrape, or imaginary booboo, who declares with certainty that The Beatles sing Penny Lane and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, who would watch Inside Out everyday if we let her. Someone who feels and loves so strongly, that when something she loves suddenly appears (her Nana and Papa, a favorite song on the radio, a perfectly frosted cupcake), she would be compelled to bury her head into the nearest shoulder or couch cushion or flee the room entirely, as she just couldn’t cope with those intense emotions.
Wheeling our wagon the three blocks back toward home, I passed vines upon vines of Confederate Jasmine in bloom, their intoxicating scent wafting into the air. I arrived at our worn brick stoop and sighed happily, humbled by the task at hand- the task of being your mother and watching you grow into the person you were always meant to be. Our trip has only just begun, and yet I feel its’ passing like a passenger on a train, trying desperately to catch glimpses of gorgeous countryside as it all goes flying by. Rather than frantically grasping in vain for the details in the foreground, the quaint little cottages and wooden fences, I will attempt to sit back, exhale and enjoy the far away picture, the fields of wildflowers and gently rolling hills spread before me. It is a breathtaking, awe-inspiring trip, and I am a willing traveler.