A couple weeks ago I took Valentine across the street from our house to a little wooded area and snapped a few pictures. There is a part of motherhood that involves desperately trying to imprint every aspect of our children at every moment of every day so that we won’t forget one sliver of the beauty of who they are. Valentine has become something new over the summer- taller, brighter, more careful, more conversant. I wanted hard evidence of what she is, knowing that in a moment, it will be what she was.
She loves to talk with me. She loves to wrestle her father. She still loves to draw, but has less attention for books. More for racing in the yard or scooping sand into her chubby palm and pretending it’s a cookie. Fascinated by the generosity of others, she’s always picking up things around the house and asking, “Who gave you, Mama?” And when I tell her, her eyes open wide and she says, “Oh! Thank you, Grammy!” or whoever it was that gifted us the item.
When she sits, she sits with her hands clasped in her lap. She straightens rugs that are crooked, closes drawers left cracked open, notices when Mabel spills a bit of dog food. She is so conscientious.
At this moment in time, she wants to do things by herself. She wants to let the dog out, open the car door, climb into her carseat, climb out, flush the toilet, pour the tea, do the dishes. It’s utterly maddening to her if I do something that she could do herself. “No, I do it!” It’s as though I’ve stolen an opportunity for her to practice, to learn. I know this is more a characteristic of toddlerhood in general, but it’s the most humbling thing to see. If I applied a percentage of that kind of hard work and teachability to anything I did, I’d be proficient by the end of the year.
Every night, when we pray with her, we end with the same prayer. “God, please speak to Valentine’s heart in ways that she understands so that she’ll know how much you love her. Fill her with love, humility and wisdom. Amen.”