Dependence Days

The most lovely thing to happen this week was the moment where Abigail opted – nay, demanded – to stay nestled in my arms, head rested against my shoulder.

Twice. Within 30 seconds.

My child has never been a cuddler. It is not really in her DNA. My father has forever been saying that since the moment she was born, Abigail has “had an agenda.” I would agree with that. AG is always studying, always looking, always examining. She does not have stranger anxiety. She does not really care if you’re there or not, she’s got a plan and you can get on board or not. I have yet to encounter anything she’s afraid of – not animals, not heights, not water, not falling. When she does fall, she gets right back up. When she cries, it’s typically because you’ve said “no” or because it’s taken five seconds longer for her desire to be met than with which she’s comfortable.

If AG is really pissed, she’ll stand, feet shoulder-width apart, back arched, and release an ear-piercing shriek of displeasure. She doesn’t cry and carry on – not at all. Just her barbaric yawp, alerting everyone to its existence.

But this week, these past 48 hours, really, she’s wanted me and my arms and my embrace. And refused others. She’s made beelines for my lap – actually using the word, “Mama!” on her way. And it doesn’t last long, mind you, but it’s purposeful.

A long time ago I let go delusions of how my relationship with my daughter would be. In truth, having no real model of a mother/daughter relationship of my own, I didn’t have  a delusion to begin with, more of a wish that she would like me and that I would like her and at no time when we were at odds with each other would her father undercut me and ask her to tolerate me, nudge nudge wink wink.

“Dreaming big” remains a challenge, I suppose.

And so it is soul-enriching to have the chance to get drunk on this feeling of needing, of this importance. I am smart enough to know that it’s about her needs, in the immediate, being met, and that there is only so much complexity here. But I also know that in lieu of intellectualism is the emotional, is the animal instinct that kicks in, and that, for whatever reason, no matter how self-serving, she’s drawn to me as shelter from the storm.

And if by “storm” you mean “having your diaper changed,” then I am that person for Abigail.

In my efforts to stop and be less rigid, this has been a welcome salve. How much mail can really be sorted, how many groceries really be shelved in the pantry, how much laundry really be put away when you have a little girl whose only wish on earth is to be snuggled deeply onto your chest?

I know some day – tomorrow, maybe – she’ll change her mind and want her Daddy. Some day sooner she will want neither of us, and in lieu of real communication she’ll slam a door, roll an eye, test my patience with a skirt too short. And that’s OK. I will be grateful for these 48 hours when all she could do was toddle into my lap, pop her thumb in her mouth and huddle before she set off on her next adventure.