My daughter’s voice found its way into the kitchen. As with most toddlers, my daughter had developed the habit of continually calling my name for no apparent reason. Elbow deep in soapy water, attacking a week’s worth of dirty dishes, I chose not to answer.
Her tone grew sharp and the volume increased. I knew from experience this was due to my lack of response more than any real necessity for my presence. I hacked at the layers of food caked on the bottom of the pan with a butter knife that had been forced to give up its purpose.
My daughter’s call held the same frustration I was trying to keep at bay. I counted off all the usual reasons for her demanding tone. Hungry? I had just given her a bowl an apple. Thirsty? Her sippy cup had been filled with chocolate milk, which was her favourite. I had even allowed her the additional treat of watching TV while I strove to finish my mountain of work. What could she possibly want?
With teeth clenched, I dried my hands and tramped from the kitchen, barely keeping my irritation in check. I tried to ignore the baskets of unwashed laundry that greeted me as I entered the living room. Not to mention the array of toys that were strewn across the floor I still hadn’t vacuumed.
“What’s wrong, Abby? Mommy’s busy!”
The words came out harsher than I intended, but how was I going to get anything done today if I was continually interrupted?
“Mommy.” In true toddler vocabulary, that two-syllable word was extended to about five.
With a weary sigh I crossed the room and sat sideways on the couch to face my daughter. Unable to keep still for more than three consecutive seconds, she bobbed and bounced, poking at the window as if she’d discovered Atlantis.
“See, Mommy? See?”
I glanced out at the snowy afternoon. The clouds had become an unbroken ceiling of grey that blotted out any direct sunlight. Hundreds of shredded cotton balls meandered their way down from the heavens. The giant flakes twisted and swirled in the breeze, now and then sticking together as they made their way to the ground. In my mind it meant only one thing, another day of monumental shovelling.
“See what?” I said, my patience wearing thin.
My daughter’s response came in a tone bordering on confusion. Her little forehead wrinkled. Her index finger jabbed at the window as she looked at me not understanding how I could miss something so obvious.
I gazed in wonder at my daughters face. Even her confusion couldn’t cloud the excitement that beamed from her eyes. She poked her finger at the window again, in a demand for me to see what she saw. I looked again, through her eyes.
The snow still fell, the sky still gray, but the scene now took on a new life. In the ambient light the huge snowflakes became a pure white against a flat grey. The breeze caused those little wings to flutter and fly as if attached to living beings. They danced and played across the winter stage, diving and spinning with abandon. I had no doubt that their laughter was echoing in my daughter’s ears.
We spent the rest of the afternoon watching her baby angels. My daughter bounced around as she named them, then jumped off the couch coaxing me to join her as she imitated their playful motions. Collapsing in exhausted giggles, on the still un-vacuumed carpet, I realized what I had missed.
Everything I had intended for that day, all my perceived obligations, my endless list of tasks, and my self-imposed deadlines, all of them could wait. The priority I had given them was much more than they deserved. In truth, not one of them could compare to my daughter, or to her baby angels.
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