Last Saturday Solo. It was wonderful. Today Aria sang to me. 

This deployment has had its ups and downs. Downs with health. Downs with massive transition at work. Downs with fatigue from being the one and only. 

But my time with Aria. It’s been such an up. On days like this, I realize what a relationship we’ve built together over these long months looking out for each other. 

After dinner and brushing teeth, Aria was eager to turn out the lights and to be put into her crib. 

She gazed at me with that smile of hers, not her charmer smile, or her big grin, or her laughing smile, or her smile of delighted relief I always get when I pick her up from someone else’s care. This was another smile. It was a happy smile. Simple. Full of real love. 

I realized I felt the same, that I was giving her the same smile. I felt sincerely happy. 

This always happens on days I let go, on days when I am just mom. When I’m not thinking about the novel I should be writing or the emails I should be sending or the books I should be reading. When I barely take out my phone except to quickly share a photo or two on Facebook. 

By the end of these days, I feel less tired, less angry, less frustrated. I just feel happy. It takes all day for it to fully settle in. It’s like that 8th day of my honeymoon in Tahiti. That was the first day of my entire like I felt what it truly means to be relaxed. It was transcendent. Really. 

That’s how I feel with Aria. When I’m just mom. In these moments, I feel totally and completely alive. It’s transcendent. It heals the soul. 

I asked my smiling daughter if she wanted me to sing. She nodded. I sang “My Little Aria,” as we held hands through the crib bars. 

My little Aria

Oh how I love you.

You are my daughter

I love you so. 
I will be with you

Here in the darkness, in life’s many dark moments, holding you closely

All night long. 

You may not see me. You may not be sure. 

But I will be with you

All night long. 
My little Aria

Oh how I love you.

You are my daughter

I love you so. 
It has a lot of other verses. I made them up as I went. Then I switched to “Tomorrow” as I often do and then a few hymns. 

We ended up taking three trips over to the changing table while I sang to her. She didn’t complain or protest. Just nodded when I asked her if she needed to be changed. 

On the third trip

Aria started to sing. 

I swear she was singing “Tomorrow.” Her smile widened to a broad grin. 

We sang together

Then I hoisted her up into my arms and hugged her tight. 

I asked her to tell me when she was ready. After a minute or two in each other’s arms, she shifted toward the crib. 

I kissed her good night and set her down. 

As I lifted away, she sang “Tomorrow! Tomorrow!” one more time. Then cried softly for a minute after I drifted away into the night. 

As I laid in bed, remembering what it felt to hear my daughter sing words to me for the first time, I realized this was it. Next week we go back to being three. 

It was a sweet and beautiful end to what felt at times like an impossibly difficult deployment. 

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