My daughter has learned a new skill this past week: the art of transportation. Now that she has mastered toddling around the house on her two dainty feet, she has her hands free. And what better activity than carrying items from one location to another? She is increasingly aware of where items belong—and where she can find them. Personal toiletries seem to be a favorite, and she loves that feminine products fit neatly in her fists, ready to be distributed throughout the kitchen in cupboards and drawers to be found at later dates.
At some point, operating in a world where items materialize in random locations around the house became expected. I’m not sure the day it happened, when the pitter patter of little feet and the sound of her shallow breathing as she concentrates on a specific task became noises that are so familiar, when the schedule of my day began to so effortlessly match the patterns of her naps, when grabbing hats and mittens for two people no longer required any more thought than gathering them just for myself. I don’t remember when I started emptying the dishwasher when she is out of the room, racing to place the contents on the counter before she has made her way over, because as soon as she hears the clinking of silverware and clangs of bowls being stacked she comes running.
Last week, I left her behind. I got on a plane with a couple dozen high school athletes and travelled to a track meet on the mainland, leaving her in capable loving hands—just not mine. The first 24 hours were glorious. I ate without breaking off small chunks to feed a pleading toddler; I fell asleep listening to sounds of sleeping bags rustling against sleeping pads, and awoke to the sound of an alarm clock instead of a cry. Yet after that initial break, where I remembered what it was to operate as an individual, I was ready to return. She has become such a bright spot in my day-to-day existence, and while she complicates the simplest of tasks she has edged her way into my expectations.