It was just a moment. Or a collection of them strung effortlessly together, in the middle of an average day, in an average week, with no special occasion on the horizon and no grandiose agenda in mind. Both the elder girls were in school, and Echo just happened to mention that she wanted to go to the local children’s museum again as we had done last week, much to our mutual enjoyment. I had some work to do in the morning and early afternoon, but agreed that afterward we could go for another Echo and Papa adventure.
I guess I should mention — this is a new treat for us. Natalie and I agreed before Echo’s coming that we wanted to adhere to what we then called “the Cro-Magnon approach to Attachment Parenting.” (With our dear friend Kris Laroche, we would later call it Natural Parenting, and develop a support center, kids teaching tools, and books based on this approach.) Largely this meant attempting to choose connection strategies that most closely resembled what humans have done for the bulk of our existence. So things like co-sleeping, nursing, carrying Echo everywhere (instead of putting her in a stroller, or leaving her locked into a car-seat-carrier), and generally making our lives fit around caring for her were the choices that made the most sense to us. This included a reversal of my previous attempts (with Bella and Xi) to be Papa-Mom and Super-Papa, respectively — meaning I took two large steps back from trying to be a male mother on the one hand, and a papa just as nurturing as mom on the other. This has resulted is Echo being firmly couched in her attachment to Natalie for the past three years, with only moments and much later as much as an hour away from each other. I have been backseated for most of these first few years, loving Echo mostly by caring for Natalie. Of course, Echo and I have played a lot together, and held each other, and have been deeply bonded in what feels like the most appropriate way for our roles. But by and large, Echo has been at Natalie’s side, or on it, since she was born, with only a couple dozen, short exceptions. Now, however, Echo is of her own volition seeking more time with me, delighting in opportunities to have some Echo and Papa adventures. I think it has a lot to do with her age, but is also part of how she has responded to her Xideka (who had been home-schooled until this year) going off to second grade.
So after working in the morning and early afternoon, I came back to the house and picked Echo up for a play date at the children’s museum. And it was closed. We stood at the door for a few minutes, not believing what was happening. I think I was more bummed than her, though, and eventually she convinced me to embrace the moment and go do something else together. We went for a short walk, picking out things we thought were interesting and discussing them — “the puddle of helicopters”, for example, that we noticed crossing the street where maple seeds had been collected in a pool of water near the curb. Eventually we made our way to Butterfly Herbs, our favorite cafe. We had bagels and tea and toys before us with in a matter of moments.
After awhile, Echo came to my side of the booth where we sat. I held her in my arms and swayed her playfully back and forth over the table. And she began to sing, loudly and loosely, rhyming on a single word for a dozen lines or so (“go, yo, joe, no, flow, mo, dough…”), then switching to another word and continuing for another dozen lines (“be, me, flea, knee…”). And we were giggling and enjoying ourselves so fully that we were attracting all kinds of attention and interaction from our friends there as well.
And I caught sight of us from above in my mind’s eye. And I noticed a slowing of time and softening of the edges of my perception. And then I realized: “We are having a perfect moment. Here we are enjoying it, and I am aware of it’s perfection, and I am getting to savour that right here and now.” It was instantaneous nostalgia in the most fulfilling sense. I could’ve over looked the grandeur for it’s simpleness. I could’ve missed it for any number of reasons. But I didn’t.
And I am so glad.