“Mommy, will you play Hide and Seek with me and my stuffed animals, pleeaase?” My precocious four-year-old daughter asked as she tugged on my shirt.
“Sure sweetie girl as soon as I get these dishes done. I’ll only be about five more minutes.”
“How long is that?” she asked, hands on hips.
“Not very long at all. Look at the clock. When the second hand is on the twelve you count it going around five times and by then I should be done, OK?”
She pulled a chair from the table, pulled it over in front of the clock, and planted herself squarely on the chair. Gazing intently at the clock, she didn’t move a muscle for the five whole minutes. As soon as she had counted five rotations, she bounded out of the chair, jumping up and down, squealing. “Mommy are you done yet?”
“I sure am.” I said as I hung the dishcloth over the edge of the sink. “Go get your stuffed animals.”
“I already did!” Her voice rang with pride and joy.
Sure enough her animals were lined up from largest to smallest on the living room couch.
“Can I go first Mommy?” she asked, her eyes alive with mischief. She bounced up and down on her toes, her pigtails bouncing with her.
I laughed, delighted by her antics. “Sure, Sweetpea, you can go first.”
“OK Mommy, you sit right here,” she said, pointing to the rocking chair. “Close your eyes and count to 100 and no peeking! Promise?”
No matter how many times we played this game, her instructions were always the same, setting in stone something familiar.
I sat down, crossed my legs, and closed my eyes.
“Mommmmy. Close them tighter.”
I heard the sounds of her shuffling around, gathering her animals as I started to count.
I got caught up in sweet memories of her and forgot to count. Tea parties she had laid out so perfectly. Making sure she ‘wrote out’ the recipes for me when we were done. Singing into our hairbrushes as we listened to favorite songs on the radio. The time she made a ‘fishing pole’, filled the bathroom sink with water and went ‘fishing’. Making animals with her blocks on a blanket, grabbing a spray bottle and making it ‘rain’… “It’s Noah’s Ark Mommy.” Her grin was sunshine on a cloudy day. Reading aloud to her as she snuggled on my lap.
I started… wondering for a moment where I was… oh yes, another delight filled time with my daughter… playing Hide and Seek, which we did the rest of that morning.
Eighteen years have passed and all I have are candy-coated memories of those times etched in mind. Though they are engraved there, the laughter of those days is a cobweb on the ceiling, seen but often forgotten. The challenges of the ensuing years have clouded much of what was, and in its place I find melancholy days.
Over the years we’ve ‘played’ a different kind of Hide and Seek – she hiding a lot of who she is and me seeking to find her. I’m learning though, that part of the letting go process is the ability to quit ‘seeking.’ As I continue to let go, not digging for information, she continues to feel more comfortable in her own skin, and shares little bits and pieces of who she is as she’s comfortable doing it of her own free will.
So, the days of playing Hide and Seek are over and in its place is the fine art of me learning to balance being a friend to her, but at the same time still be her mom… I think I can live with that.
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