Super Special Girl Time™

Once a week, Pippin has a music class in the evening, to which J takes him because I am a musical dunce. At first, this weekly event devastated Scout. Why can’t she have a music class, too? (Well, because she is three, for starters.)

So we tried to give it a spin. Ah yes, we said. Your brother is going to a music class, but you, my tiny friend, you get Super Special Girl Time.™ You and your sister get special time with Mama. (It has not occurred to her yet that 98% of her week is time with Mama.)

In the beginning, I had visions for this hour-long block once a week. We’d walk to Starbucks. We’d play on the playground. We’d visit neighbors. We’d bake lovely things. Never mind that music class falls on a particularly busy weekday right before the girls crash for bed.

What Super Special Girl Time™ ended up being, then, is this, with no deviation permitted:

  1. Finish dinner.
  2. Optional bath.
  3. Put away laundry while listening to Disney songs. (Costume changes encouraged.)
  4. Cuddle in Mama’s bed while FaceTiming the Aunts in the dimness. (Why is the dimness important? Why only the Aunts? Hey, I don’t make the rules.)

That’s it. None of the fancy, Instagrammable, enriching things I’d envisioned. This is what Scout and I have chosen together, tolerated by Roo.

At Thanksgiving I was confronted by so much soul-ache. A friend’s teenage daughter is working through a rough patch. Another friend suffered a miscarriage. My mother’s mother, devoured by Alzheimer’s, moved into hospice care. I celebrated my birthday 800 miles away from my mom, missing her chocolate chip pecan pie, while another friend, expecting to celebrate Thanksgiving several time zones from her mother, instead ate the meal at her childhood home, reeling from her dad’s death. So many of us confront a strained relationship at the holidays with those we most want to love and be loved by. So many of us are plagued by regrets or questions: did it have to play out this way?

Super Special Girl Time™ is not the remedy against all this heartache. There isn’t one. But Super Special Girl Time™ is all that is asked of me at this moment, nothing superhuman, nothing even especially photogenic. Just the prosaic, plodding, blessed work of loving on these two weird little girls in my care.

A year in, I’m still shyly thrilled when I get to say “my daughters” or “my girls” — what an unlooked-for bounty they are, my Eleanor and Elizabeth. Still, there is no way to armor our hearts for the messy work of mothers and daughters. Marching toward me, I think, are merry winters with these growing girls, one green-eyed, one brown. But looming before me are also seasons of heartbreak I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine, and maybe I shouldn’t try, because maybe it’s the quiet work of moments like Super Special Girl Time™ that ends up being what remain, beyond all regret and blame. Not as a way to ward off all sadness or a way to do things right, but rather a way to pass the ordinary time, peaceably, together.

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