Here’s your first day of school picture: wild hair, a dimple to spare and a fat lip, running in a white sundress at breakneck speed to the car and then headlong into kindergarten. I’ll give up the front stoop shot in favor of watching her shed her pajamas in five seconds flat so that she can come with me on a morning walk. I tried to slip out quietly, heard a shuffle behind me, turned around and found the backend of a naked child bolting down the hall for her shoes. The dog was already waiting at the door.
I’ve been trying to capture a bit of peace of mind lately. Its a hunt, a chase, it’s rummaging and sifting. It’s turning over mossy rocks and flipping up corners of carpets. It’s dusting cobwebs from corners and scrubbing the sinks. It’s checking the mail two, three times before remembering I already brought it in, through the house, and left it on the deck in the rain. It’s eating a cupcake before supper and an eclair after. It’s trying to take a walk by myself. It’s reminding myself not to try to control anything and feeling like what I do is control everything.
Everything except the windblown, laughing, devil in the middle of the road with her feet planted wide and her face tipped up to the clouds. That’s a practice in self-control. Not to lecture, or scold. To keep my voice quiet when I warn of cars around curves. To take a deep breath when she rockets over uneven concrete and into the house out of my sight. To remember that she is five and not three or two or a baby.
A baby who fell asleep as I sang and rocked her this evening. One minute it was wide eyes and Winnie the Pooh and the next it was the quiet creak of the rocking chair and a heavy girl in my arms. The peace of mind I was looking for (at least for today) was in the place I would have tried to escape from as soon as possible. I assumed what I wanted was in solitude but it was tucked in with my daughter and her too small christmas pajamas.
Not bad for the first day of school.