The sun wakes up and so do they, one right after the other. They start their day so I start mine and we begin it all as one. We start the dance of the morning with the coloring and the cooking and the yelling and the forgiving and the exploring and the experimenting and the actual dancing. Our dance goes back and forth and around again as we each figure out the rhythm that this day will need, that our hearts will require.
Two steps forward and one step back and this one better than the last. Two steps forward and one step back and we step on each other’s toes.
We’re all figuring this out together, you see. One is discovering and exploring her world and one is discovering and exploring her independence and I am discovering and exploring them and me and my identity and my game plan and us together all at the same time.
I didn’t know the dance moves before we hit the floor, you see. How I wish I did. Right/left/box step/jazz hands would have been so helpful as I learned how to move with you and around you and holding you and for you.
But none of this came with an instruction manual, none of this came with a trainer, none of this came with a users guide. Sure there are those that have gone before and those that go beside and those that offer advice from the grocery store aisle. But this is our dance. And we need to find our rhythm and our own back-and-forth together. These are our days, each as unique as the one before.
One is learning how to become hers more than mine and the other is a bundle of energy learning and growing, but still mine more than her own. And then one is on the floor screaming while the other is scavenging in the pantry and one is back-talking while the other is running away from me. And then one is saying no while the other is saying no too. And then they both are heaps on the floor, too exhausted from learning how to live in this world.
And I improvise my moves to each of theirs. I match their moves, sometimes a step ahead and sometimes lagging behind and sometimes too exhausted to anticipate the next.
And here is what I see, the most important part of it all: they too, are matching their moves to mine. It took me this long to see it, this long to notice the high and heavy purpose I carry each and every day: I am duplicating myself in them. They watch and they analyze and they mimic and they do as they see me do. Each of us is learning how, together, all at the same time, to do this well. How to be a mama and how to be a sister and how to be a 3-year-old and how to be a 1-year-old and how to passionately engage in our world and be our best selves. And so they imitate the one they are around the most, they emulate what they see me do, what they hear me say.
Both my moves that should be imitated and my moves that should be forgotten, each of them and every single one is replicated in mini-me fashion right beneath my toes.
The little one, the one still even just learning her words, looks me right in the eyes and screams an emphatic NO. The bigger one, the one who grabs my hand spontaneously as we cuddle on the couch, this one also yells STOP IT. RIGHT NOW. JUST STOP IT. And I ask myself where she has heard that phrase before.
And they play with their pretend phones, pushing buttons and talking emphatic, distracted as ever. I look down with my computer on my lap and my phone open to Instagram.
And then the older says phrases like Daddy, you are my best boy and Thanks for coming to my rescue and You’re just the cutest, baby girl. Maybe I do say kind things sometimes?
And then as we are running late and the morning has been difficult and I am trying to rush rush rush them out the door and they mirror my emotions and mimic my stress, escalating the day into a ticking time bomb, each of us frustrated with the other.
It has taken me this long to completely and fully and really realize that I am duplicating myself in them. The good and the bad and the better and the worse and the gentle and the ugly, they are following my footsteps, they are mimicking what they see me do, how they hear me talk, how they watch us interact; they watch my every move.
And I ask myself: am I worth duplicating? Are my actions and my words and my responses and my reactions worthy of multiplication? Sometimes. Not always. And so we continue to practice. I continue to take deep breaths and pause before speaking and freeze before I grab her arm too forcefully and think about the consequences and how I want them to speak to me and to others and to themselves. I snuggle them and I hold them tight and I whisper love over their tired hearts all the live-long day. I ask forgiveness and we make it right and we all swim in grace.
And we move on and begin each day anew. Because everyday holds rhythms of its own and we do this dance. And we figure it out together and they watch me and I watch them and we match each others moves.
And so my girls, thank you for getting in the way of me. Thank you for being my mirror and shaking my pride and reminding me how very much I do not have it together. Because we are works in progress. Our dance might be clunky and graceful all at the same time, but it is ours. Thank you for your grace and restoration and laughter and bear hugs and bringing so much clarity with your complexity.
I needed that.
Now let’s go dance.