A couple months ago, Rhema’s school bus route changed.
Her hour-long bus ride got even longer. There was no way she’d make her after-school therapy sessions on time.
The decision was made to have the bus take her directly to therapy after school.
I do not like the new schedule. She’s at school all day and then therapy after school and… what time do I get to be her mommy? She’s still so young, and she needs me (I tell myself). And I need to see her, touch her, know she’s o.k.
So Hope and I meet her bus – along with her teacher – at the therapy center.
When she gets off the bus, her teacher takes her hand, and we walk the corridor to her room. We pause many times in the hall, prompting her to walk when she gets spaghetti legs or drops to the floor. She doesn’t seem to notice me, she doesn’t look my way.
She is prompted to say, “Bye”, which she does pretty easily now. But her gaze is averted.
Hope and I do what we do. We wait for Rhema.
Later, when she’s finally home, we are at odds. She doesn’t know what to do with herself, her body. She escapes into her world. She can’t stay still. She sheds her clothes, she breaks a glass, she pulls down a curtain and dances in the window. She stims at the sink, letting the water run over her hands. She climbs into the washing machine, sits atop the agitator and spins around. She shrieks continuously.
And I find myself saying, “No! No, no, no.” to every single thing she does. “No! No, no, no.” because this is not what I wanted.
We battle over her food – she won’t eat what I’ve made, she only wants popsicles for dinner. She hides her dinner in the cupboard, and when I retrieve it, she tears her meal into tiny pieces all over the table. She dumps her drink in the toilet. She’s been home for an hour, and I’m already frustrated and exhausted.
As I put her to bed, my heart literally pounds. I hope against hope for the miracle of connection. Just one moment, God, for me and my girl, I pray. Let her turn her lovely face to me. Let her see me. Let her be still with me. Let me occupy her attention for just a moment in time. (It occurs to me that God desires the same things from me – that He would be my attention, that I would turn and see Him, be still and know Him).
“Nigh, nigh,” she whispers, like a benediction, unprompted.
Before I can exult in the spontaneous, appropriate language, she pushes me toward the door. Like a pirate ship carnival ride, we swing back and forth, high and low.
“Wait. I love you,” I say.
“I luh yew,” she mimics.
She is my dream, a part of me, the extension of me, she is me.
And I realize that I’ve been missing her all day. All her life.