Liv: So.....I'm off next Thursday and Friday, you know? Teacher work days..."
Maria aka "mother" or "mama": "Hmmm. That's right. Any plans? You know Bing and I both have work. You can stay home alone and I could have Hal and Nora (trusted next door neighbors who used to babysit Liv) check in on you from time to time..."
Junior High has left me with a new Liv. She used to either have a friend over or be at a friend's home. Lately, she is slowly making a circle of friends at her new school...1) Kalei, who is from Hawaii and also a newbie, 2) Aaron, a fellow science geek who is her lab partner and 3) Maggie, a soccer friend....but they are at the beginning of the friend process, aren't going to each other's homes after school yet. Plus, Kalei is living with her Aunt, a corporate big wig player, as her parents are in the doctors without borders group, Aaron has a very overprotective mother and Maggie comes from a huge Irish family and is quite busy with them. Liv and Aaron talk on the phone sometimes and I suspect that they might be close to the edge of visiting with each other at their prospective homes but this process is painfully slow and I am careful never to push Liv. She needs to go at her own pace.
Liv: "Well,I was wondering....is there any way that you could take next friday off and we could just.....hang together? Just you and me?"
I suddenly have a golf ball in my throat. I am not dense. Soon, she will not choose me first. Soon she will want to be with her friends and not me. These days of togetherness will end soon. At least that is what my friends with teens say. That when their kids hit puberty, they suddenly went from being their confidante and close ally to being....the embarrassing parents who were not that smart.
I like to think that Liv and I will be close forever, but I am cognizant of the fact that there is a much needed break away time for her that will come soon.
I speak slowly, carefully.
Maria: Well, I suppose I could take that day off, honey. What did you want to do together?"
Liv grins. I can see that she has been pondering this.
Liv: I want to make pancakes for breakfast together. And then I want to bake a cake together. Remember how fun it used to be to bake cakes? Remember my friend, Charley and how we used to bake birthday cakes for him?"
I smile. I remember Charley well. Liv's imaginary lion friend. He celebrated his birthday several times a year. He accompanied Liv everywhere and sat at the dinner table with us as well. I had to frequently remind him to keep his elbows off the table. Once, he persisted with talking with food in his mouth and I had to put him in a time out on the sofa. Charley appeared when Liv was three and disappeared when she was in first grade.
Maria: "I remember Charley. Want to bake him a cake, just for fun? What else do you want to do?"
Liv: "Then I want to play board games. Battleship. Clue. Aggravation. Chess. And after that, I want to take Socks for a walk and then come home and have toasted peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunch...."
Maria: "You've really thought this out, huh?"
Liv: "Yup. And then, in the afternoon, I thought we could go to the bookstore and I could take some of my allowance and we could look at that list of books you gave me this morning (thank you SO MUCH, blog readers!) and maybe buy one or two. And then...come home and watch a movie. Something we haven't seen but always wanted to catch. And then Bing would come home and we could do what we always do: go to her high school's football game and get chili dogs for dinner...."
Maria: "Livvy? That sounds so fun. YES. I'll take next Friday off and it will be OUR day. Just you and me. There is no one that I would rather be with than you, sugar foot. You know that."
Liv sighs happily. Says that yes, she knows and then she takes a deep breath and says, "Mama? Sometimes I miss being little with you. I miss having you all to myself. Sometimes at school, when things felt too hard at the beginning of the year...I would go into a bathroom stall and pull out this picture. I kept it in my back pack."
She pulls a photo out. It is not my best one, but I like it. I am sitting at my office at work and I am laughing about something, my head back and my mouth wide open. I don't particularly like the wheat colored suit I am wearing in that photo, but my hair looks really, really good....I am choked with emotion, thinking of her standing in a bathroom stall, feeling so lonely and scared. I'm glad she had it. I am.
I pull her to me, hug her hard. Tell her that this is why I have photos of her in my office. That sometimes when I am having a hard day, I look at them and feel better. Just because I know that she is in the world. She nods. Understands.
So, next Friday will be Mother and Liv day. Just us.
I never really thought much about soul mates until Liv was born. But, now I think I understand. I always used to think of soul mates in a romantic way. Now, I think differently. I believe in reincarnation and I believe that Liv and I have played these parts or similar ones many, many times. She is my soul mate. I've never known anything in my life as powerful as motherlove. It transcends words. I have come to believe that others in my life are part of my soul posse: people who I've known before in many ways. Bing. Harriet. Liv's Father. My friends from Chicago: Vince and Thuan. And a few others. And yes, even Socks.
And soon Liv will be a teenager and spending a day playing chess with me, baking and going to a book store will not be a big deal. It will be....a chore.
I held my Liv for a long, long moment, savoring the lemony smell of her, her unique scent that I feel in every cell of my body. She is my baby, my little girl with the imaginary lion friend, Socks' pal, her father's pride and joy. And my soul mate.
I can't wait to spend the day with her.
Money can't buy this sort of joy.