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Sometimes I’m stunned when my daughter says things to me at 2 that I say only in my head, things I’d never speak and even try to keep from appearing. It makes me wonder how they slip through, when she sees them, or if somehow, unknowingly they slipped themselves into my DNA like curls or an occasionally questionable attitude. I look at her in her perfection and wonder how she carries these things of mine, if somehow in me, too, they could be as wonderfully made.

We celebrated Mother’s Day quietly a few weeks ago, because quiet is what any mother of a two-year-old wants (and deserves!) most. [A side note: I’ve recently heard living with a two-year-old compared to having a deranged parrot in your house and to living in a DVD with the director’s commentary turned on. Both are true and funny and make me feel better and understood! And though it sounds like I‘m complaining I really love it, because she is smart and engaged and completely hilarious!]

Back to Mother’s Day: my daughter and I sent ourselves upstairs for the afternoon, allowing my wife some well-deserved rest with the couch and HGTV. As I busied myself with my endless, mildly obsessive list of things to do, I tried to keep her distracted with toys and television, staying in one room long enough to get her occupied and then moving to another to try to get something done. But she’s fast and curious, and I’m ashamed to say how quickly I found myself dodging my child, convinced that her sole purpose was to frustrate my efforts and relegate me to another week of being massively behind (behind what I‘m not sure). After several maneuvers she found me again, and as I tried to move away, she exclaimed at me in her own frustration “I just want to see you!”

I just want to see you.

Those words have so often been kept from my mouth only by my dignity and the knowledge that it’s not something you can yell at strangers, or even less-than-strangers.

I want you to see me, too.

In her raw and determined state, this not-even-three-feet of honesty never considers that she shouldn’t have what she wants, and she chases me down because she wants what I want. And I’m tempted as the words come out of her mouth to say you don’t know, you can’t know now that this is a hard desire, to advise her to trade that chromosome for another that’s more functional (like the ability to add more than single digits) and less inclined towards brooding and heartbreak, both real and self-imposed. You don’t want to spend your life trying to see or hoping to be seen. Except that I know, too, that every once-in-a-while it happens. I get to see. I am seen. And it’s great and strong enough – strong as death – that it eclipses those longing days.

It’s not mine to change what’s knit into her, only to teach and empower her and give her a taste of living it out well, and to hope that she also has enough of her mother that she‘ll pull it off better than I do most of the time. So I gave up my list; we sat together to watch cartoons, and for a little while we both got what we wanted.

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