It was such a nice way to start my day
The first time Greta came into my room that morning, she completed her compulsory touch-her-mama sequence, but then she quickly whirled off again. I admit, I went back to sleep for what I think was a while, as I felt notably more rested when I woke the next time. It was Maren who found me for the second wake of the day and climbed into my bed for some snuggles. The next time Greta came in, Maren was curled in the crook of my arm, and we were quietly plotting and planning out our day from the comfort of our cozy togetherness.
Greta announced, “Mom! You have to come see what I did!”
Greta is four. An announcement like this from Greta is usually not a good sign. But, today her tone is full of glee-filled wonder, rather than uh-oh woe, so I am cautiously optimistic that whatever she wants to show me is not a mess. Or at least not a sticky mess, I think. Messes are measured on a complicated scale during these mothering years. I say, “Greta?! What have you been up to?”
She spreads out her hands in front of her and her fingers are splayed too. She’s gesturing and chattering with an enthusiasm that is so very Greta. “Mom, I have been in my room.” She changes her body language and forms a new stance for her next statement, “I have been so busy, you are not even going to believe it.” New pose, “Seriously, Mom.” She looks at me, “I’m so serious.”
I’m biting back my laughter as I listen to her; Greta has a flair for the dramatic, obviously. She’s magnetic and engaging though, and Maren and I both leave the coziness to see what Greta has to show us. G takes off in her usual manner when she is off with purpose: she jettisons from the room and I cringe as she squeezes through the doorway with no margin (cringe), careens around the banister (cringe), and makes the hairpin turn to her bedroom (cringe). The girl only has two speeds: no way and hell yes.
She stops dead four feet into her room and does a big “ta-da”.
Maren and I follow behind, and we’re both underwhelmed but trying to play it off like we’re just soaking it in. “Ah, G. Well, it looks like you’ve been busy in here,” I say. Then, as I look closer, I realize she has made her bed. I immediately seize upon this opportunity to praise her, “Greta! You made your bed?!?! That is amazing! And look, you put your pillows in the middle, and your bear has a blankie, and the horse is all organized. Holy moly sister! You rocked this!” I give her a big high five and she beams — beams — at me. The rest of her room is picked up too. There is a pile here and there that isn’t quite organized or orderly, but it’s been attended to with four-year-old effort. It’s haphazard and imperfect and crooked and perfect for a beautiful little girl’s own effort to tidy her own space.
She is so pleased with herself. (And I am so pleased with her!) Her mojo continued all morning; she eats all her breakfast. She gets herself dressed and does her own hair. She even gets in the car — with shoes — and buckles her own carseat buckles. The morning was easy and graceful and effortless. (And our mornings are never easy and graceful and effortless.) She is a little spot of sunshine and compliant and cheery. The very best version of G!
Greta’s name means strength and beauty, but there are days that I wish I named her something that meant “Princess of Peace, Humility and Obedience” because strength and beauty are not easy qualities to parent!
We made it to Maren’s swim team practice, and Greta began her usual protocol of rummaging through swim bag to see what treasures I had inside. Slim pickings on this day, she emerged with the bag of hair supplies and asked, “Mama! Can I do your hair?”
I tugged off my hat and said, “Sure G. Go for it.” I arched my neck as she spritzed my hair with the travel bottle of leave-in conditioner, and cocked it to the side as she brushed. And then, of course, there was a lot more spritzing. She used two-thirds of the bottle and my cries of, “three more pumps” were decisively ignored.
“Mom!” she said, so very seriously with brush in hand. “This is the salon, and I,” she pauses to tuck her hair behind her ear, “am Erica, your …” she searches for the word and comes up blank so she fills in with”… salon person.”
“Oh,” I say with mock seriousness, “Thank you Erica for taking such good care of my hair.” And our play went on like that for a half-hour. I talked to other swim moms with my fantastic daughter roving around me giving me a stellar look for the day, and her cheer was contagious. That’s something about Greta; she’s contagious. She enamors her compadres with her energy and spirit; she’s fun to be around.
Sometimes the sweetness of my days is so deep, I just have to write it down. This day, the first day she made her bed, would be lost in a sea of sweetness of summer days so I write it for her, for me, for us. In thirty years the qualities I describe here will still be who she is at heart. Her grown-up self (so funny to imagine now) will delight in knowing herself at four. She’s amazing, and I love her so.