Geoff is gone, having lunch and a visit with a friend, and Katie is at school. Annabel and I are here alone. She is watching Sesame Street, mostly, and I am puttering around on the internet, reading an article about Roger Ebert in Esquire, checking Facebook, looking at photos on Flickr, and drinking a diet Coke. I am wearing my sock-monkeys-in-Santa-hats pajama pants, and a gray tshirt, and I have a prayer shawl around my shoulders. There is a prayer shawl ministry at church; several members of the church (all women, at this point anyway) knit or crochet shawls in soft yarns, and later they are blessed and given out to those who are ill or grieving or "experiencing life struggles." Geoff presented it to me last night when I got home from my trip to Indiana over the long weekend, and when he did, I teared up. I do feel that I am experiencing a life struggle, it's true.
In our home it is peaceful and boring and cozy, and I get up from the computer and walk a few steps into the living room, where Annabel is standing, pushing up and down on her tiptoes in her Mary Janes (she mostly insists on wearing shoes or boots even when we're in the house; sometimes she also insists on wearing gloves or hats or sunglasses; she will not, however, allow me to leave any accessories in her hair for more than a minute or two). She sucks her pacifier like Maggie on The Simpsons - regularly and determinedly. I lean down over her, across her, and wrap my arms around her round toddler belly. She leans her head with its soft blonde hair against me, looks up at me, and smiles faintly. She is engrossed in her show, mostly, which she requests by name ("sess seet"). Still, she tolerates my embrace. I pick her up gently. "Woo, woo, woo." I set her back down. I pick her up, "woo woo" at her, set her back down. She chuckles just a little bit. She is happy to have a little bit of attention, to know that I remember that I am not alone - that she is here with me - but she is mostly content to watch her show a few feet away from me and my silliness.
As I am lifting her up the third time, I think at her, "I could have lived a life without you in it," and I am overwhelmed with gratitude that that did not happen.
I put her back down on the rug, gently. She stands, shifting her weight a little bit, where I put her, looking unreasonably small for a human with her own individual personality and preferences.
I come back to the computer and type this out, making myself teary in the process. I look back at her when I am done, and I see that she has managed to pull on a pair of gloves. I smile at her and tell her I love her. She gives me a little smile, turns to the tv, and dances to the music that's on, looking at me out of the corner of her eye, making sure I'm watching. I am. Her smile gets wider, her pacifier pushed over to the corner of her mouth to make room.