I was elbow deep in a sink full of dishes, already thinking of the next task at hand when she walked up and asked me to play with her. I sighed loudly and said "Not right now, baby. I'm busy. Maybe when I'm done with all of the cleaning, okay?" She looked up with those big, sad green eyes and said "Okay, Mommy", and sauntered off to the playroom.
Thirty minutes later, there I stood in the laundry room sorting lights and darks, becoming overwhelmed at the mountain of dirty clothes we had gone through in a matter of days. In she walked, smiling slightly. "Mommy, can you play with me now?" I sighed again, somewhat annoyed at the thought of being stopped from my work and said "No, not right now. Can't you see how busy I am? Go play with your brother for a little while, okay?" Sadness lingering in her precious little voice, she softly replied, "Okay, Mommy", and walked away.
An hour later, I was in the bathroom tediously scrubbing the shower when I heard her footsteps on the hard tile. I didn't even turn around. I heard her walk back out and kept scrubbing. Once I was done, I stepped out from behind the glass door and noticed a piece of orange paper placed on the hamper. I opened it and saw the sad face and read her sweet little words, and instantly felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. I had neglected her all day.
Cleaning house had become my priority; not the precious little girl who so desperately sought out time with me. Time that she deserved. Time that I was wasting on things that could wait.
She couldn't wait, though. Time with her wouldn't wait. Because every minute saw her growing, changing, and becoming less dependent on her inaccessible mother.
I hurried down the stairs to find her in the playroom, surrounded by her collection of Shopkins. She looked up and asked "Mommy, do you have time to play with me now?" Her face lit up like Christmas morning when I replied "Of course!"
We spent an hour taking her Shopkins on silly adventures with our made up stories and funny voices. We laughed until our bellies ached.
Not once did I think of the layer of dust on the television. Not once did I think of the crumbs on the kitchen floor. Instead, I soaked up every minute of being present with her; studying the way her face lights up when she thinks something is really funny, and the way her eyes sparkle when she's excited. Her true happiness comes from our shared connection, and I hope that from here on out, I always remember to take the time to stregenth that connection.
That dreaded day is on the horizon....the day she doesn't need me anymore. It will come swiftly and in the blink of an eye, and I will cry and long to have all of the missed time back.
The house will keep, even if I don't check off the to-do list. But my baby won't. She is growing by the minute, and our time together is short. So today, everything else can wait. I'm going to be too busy loving my precious daughter to worry with anything else.