Thursday, March 20


I've always loved St. Patrick's Day.  One of my favorite days of the year -- and to be perfectly honest, I don't know why.  This year was no exception.  I celebrated with my little sunshine.  She and I, paying tribute to Erin Go Bragh and all that sort of thing, donned our green and had ourselves a most delightful little St. Patrick's Day. 

We started early, doing our due diligence on pre-Patrick's weekend, by attending the St. Patrick's Day parade downtown. This year seemed different somehow.  Granted, it had been a couple years since I attended... but for starters, the temperature outside was a whopping 40-50 degrees lower than we had seen 2 years ago.  Aside from that, the parade was just missing something.  Sure, parade participants were waving their Irish flags and sporting glittery green polyester coifs and tossing candy at any child who shouted their way.  But there were no bagpipes, no fife-and-drum corps... just... disappointing, you know?  The sad parade ended, the last green/white/orange had waved its last hurrah, and we hurried down the chilly sidewalks of Downtown Kalamazoo and made our way to a local pub for some lunch and green beer.  In all her festive glory, we sat in a westward booth in the afternoon sun, my little Sol (as usual) drawing the attention of the local crowd, sitting like a perfect Irish princess and chattering cheerfully to anyone who might listen.  After a couple boats of fresh-popped popcorn, some lunch, and a green beer, we headed home, back to regular life and anticipation of the actual St. Patrick's Day.

Monday arrived, and I dressed Sol again in her St. Patrick's garb.  As per usual, I had every intention of making some wondrously festive, Irish-themed snack to send along to daycare with Sol, but as per usual I awoke on Monday morning to see the shamrock cupcake liners were still sitting, empty, on the kitchen counter, exactly where I had left them the night before (I swear, one of these nights, the kitchen fairy will come to visit and whip up something **amazing** while I'm sleeping).

Since St. Patrick's Day isn't a public holiday (remind me to write Mr. Obama a strongly worded letter about that one), Sol went to daycare and I went to work.  By 5pm, I was just itching to leave the office and head home with my darling Sol to celebrate a holiday that really has no true/substantial meaning for us, but of which I am so fond. 

As I zipped up Sol's green coat to head home, I told her we were going to have a very special dinner.  As we walked out to the car, I continued: We were going to eat something Irish and fabulous, we were going to make a green cake, and we were going to watch Lord of the Dance.  Says she to me: "Loh-uh-dannnz?"  I said, "We're going to watch people dancing."  The whoooooole way home was filled with a refrain from Sol: "Peo-puh...DAN-CINNN!  Cake!  Peo-puh...DAN-cinnn!"  She wanted to watch those people dancing.
So we got home,
slapped on some aprons,
and started making a green cake.
Mama apron, Solly apron.
We love aprons 'round here.

Rule #1 when cooking with a toddler: NEVER tell them what you're making until it's out of the oven and ready to eat.  A toddler will not understand the concept of "making a cake" if you still have to mix the ingredients and put it in the oven for 40 minutes.  Otherwise, grin and bear it.

Grin and bear it, I did.  We mixed up a green cake, put it in the oven, and then ate a marvelously un-Irish meal of microwaved cornbread and [vegetarian] chili (that's almost the same as corned beef and cabbage, right?). 


We ate that green cake like it was our job, and then we watched the "peo-puhhh dan-cinnn" for about 8-9 glorious minutes before 2-yr-old Sol was on the loose again.  Bathtime, PJ time, book time.  

Snuggling to Lord of the Dance.
Not pictured: my pure elation when
Sol pointed to the beautiful blonde heroine
and said, "Mommy? Mommy dan-cinn?"
Why yes, Sol, that is me.  In fact, I am that talented and beautiful.
For the first time in I-don't-know-how-long, Sol and I lay together in my bed, her head resting against my chest as I regaled her with tales from her favorite book.  As per usual, I was reading to Sol but my thoughts were consumed with the never-ending "to-do" list that seems to run circles around me (laundry, dishes, homework, vacuuming, Did I lock the front door?, meetings today, meetings tomorrow, meetings next week, bills, Seriously, did I lock the front door?, homework, homework, I should clean my room, homework, etc.).

And then Sol did something she's never done before.  She reached up, and with her tiny, perfect hands, took my left hand and interlaced her tiny fingers among mine.  By some magical force that she has, she pushed every single "to-do" out of my head and shifted my focus to the lucky charm lying next to me on the bed.  The lucky charm pointing to everything I asked her to point to, and reciting every familiar part of the storybook.  I wish I were able to push that "to-do" list out of my head more often, but I just can't.  That list contains the drudgery, doubts, and struggles of parenting, the caveats that come with a grown-up life. And this 30-lb miracle in my arms, she has the power to make me forget all those things, even if only for 30 minutes at a time, and remind me once more that life is still beautiful.  

As I watched her embrace my hand so gently, I realized just how lucky I am.  Our situation is so unique, and yet I take that for granted.  Sol belongs to me -- JUST me.  How many mothers can say that?  All the love she has, it comes straight to me.  She loves me madly... probably more than I deserve.  I am not stuck with a child whom I have to raise by myself.  I am blessed with a daughter whom I get to raise on my own.  I am so very lucky to have this magnificent little person in my life, this amazingly brilliant mind whose vocabulary seems to double every day, this wonderfully compassionate little girl who walks up to me when I'm sad, pats me on the back, and says "Ya o-kayyyy, Mommy?"  She knows me, and she knows me well.  She knows when I'm happy ("Mom-my hap-py?") and she knows when I'm excited ("Mom-my 'cited?  Reeeaaa-dy, Mom-my?").  She knows when I'm sick ("Fee bet-teh, Mom-my," as she pats my aching stomach).  

This tiny human is growing so much every day, and in every way.  She's growing quickly -- and while that makes me sad, I'm more proud of her than I ever could have imagined.  She is so smart, so kind, so important (10 points if you smiled at that) -- and for that, I'm lucky.

Thank you, my beautiful Sol, for being you.

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