I sit at the top of the 20-foot inflatable slide. Ellie – along with her friends – wait for me to do something awesome going down the slide. It all started as I did an involuntary flip. One of my daughter’s friend saw it and she thought it was cool, so she told all the friends. Then the giddy girls asked me to show them, and what can I say, I cannot back down from being “cool” at my own daughter’s birthday party. Not when she is thinking her mom is –indeed – cool, and she wants her friends to see my awesomeness.
As I sit up there, contemplating the safest flip, or the silliest way to go down, it dawns on me how much I care about what my daughter thinks about me. I will somersault all the way down that slide to get her approval. I might be foolish enough to go head first with backward flips just to hear, “That’s my mom!” with admiration.
I want my daughter to like me.
Her birthday party – the time we set aside to celebrate her beautiful life – became a teachable moment for me. At the party, it was easy to be the “fun” mom. It was awesome to be the “cool” mom that goes up on the slide and puts on a show. The thing is, I want my daughter to like me not just when we are having fun. I want her to like me because I am an available mom, a present mom, a caring mom. A mom that has time to spend a day with her daughter, to make memories, to dream with, to talk.
Yes, there are times when the job is a little easier. Like when you sit at the top of a 20-foot inflatable slide and you have an audience of five to seven year olds waiting for you to come down as if you were born and raised in the circus (as opposed to Mexico City). And while I do think Ellie will remember her birthday party, I am not sure she will remember my lame attempts at being awesome. She will, however, remember the time I spent being present in her life, and most of those memories will happen at home, in the simple day-in and day-out moments.
I want my daughter to like me, not because I am “cool” but because I am doing my job right. Because I have invested in her life and in her future. And because she will remember all the love I had for her.
I want to make every moment count. I do not want the drops of time to pass by without me being present in her life.
And who knows, maybe she will remember how I tumbled down that slide, with my eyes shut tight and my legs and arms flinging in all directions.