I poured the milk into the blender. A dollop of vanilla yogurt followed. I dropped some fresh strawberries in next. As I thought about the other ingredients that I'd add to this morning's smoothie, I realized I was making it solo.
There are those quiet moments in parenthood that are never peaceful or calm. Every mother has said to herself, “It's too quiet. What's my toddler up to?” These days I'm not worried about finding the contents of the pantry poured across the kitchen floor trailing into the living room or my daughter fearlessly climbing an unstable piece of furniture. At seven, her quiet mischief usually stems from make-up application minutes before we're set to head out the door. She's loathe to draw attention to this banned form of artistry for public display.
I break a banana into chunks and drop them into the blender. I heard her walk out the front door a few minutes earlier. She hasn't come back in yet. Now I'm a mixture of curious and concerned. How is she filling this quiet time outside?
As I approach the front window something tells me to simply observe her before breaking the silence. I look out the window down the sidewalk to the left. She's not there. I turn my head to the right. There she is on our sloped driveway. Dressed in a beloved tee-shirt too small to be worn as anything other than pajamas and a pair of hand-me-down warm-up pants four inches too long. Barefoot, she's holding a bubble wand.
I know immediately I am witnessing a holy moment. I remain still and quiet and simply watch. My companionable daughter, so fond of being by my side most hours of our waking day, has found a way to entertain herself. She blows on the drenched wand and bubbles float away from her. Ever on the move and a song on her tongue, I watch her do a little dance and sing the chorus of a popular song.
Her relentless needs sometimes rub against my own demands for space and time alone. But as I watch her with the bubbles, this tension blows away—at least temporarily. I breathe a little easier. I recognize that my fear that she'll never be independent is a characteristic of every parent's experience. “This too shall pass” never seems like it will when framing an early morning feeding or a tantrum in the grocery store aisle. In this moment my daughter is proving that her independence is indeed budding.
Knowing she's safe, I return to the kitchen. I resume my smoothie making. On her own, my daughter comes through the door. “Mom, the door handle may be a little sticky. I've been blowing bubbles.” I smile. I don't want to give away that I checked on her. She walks to the sink. She washes her hands. As she dries them near the blender on the counter, she strikes up a conversation about my opinion of our new blender and what other fruits should be added. Together, we blend. She's at my side again—where she belongs.