Today was much like most of our days lately. Not great, not terrible, just another day to get through. Zoe had art after school, which is nice for us because the fights with her brother were delayed an hour. When Zach brought her home I ask the standard question: "How was your day at school," followed by "what color did you get on?" Once again my little talker got in trouble for gabbing when she wasn't supposed to. It's an affliction I suppose. Not one that I have but she comes by it honestly. I try really hard not to get too upset with her. Mentally, I'm counting down the minutes until I can put them all to bed and relax in bed with a cup of tea and a book.
Feed the kids. Clean the kids. Put Squishy to bed. Read Noah a story and put him to bed. Next comes Zoe.
I find her in her room laying in bed reading a "Jack and Annie" book as she calls them. Specifically she's reading Magic Tree House No. 49. "Zoe, is that the same book that your daddy and I read to you?"
She responds, "Yes, I'm reading it again. Will you read some to me?"
I agree to read to her but only if she agrees to reading a different book. Going to her shelf I pick up the first book I bought her, back when I was still pregnant and had recently discovered we were having a girl. I'd been waiting for her to be ready to read this book, as it has always been my favorite.
"What about this one? It's called, The Secret Garden."
With eagerness, she bounced beside me as I showed her the cover and turned to the first page. As I read she would ask questions: "What's a veranda? What is cholera? What does it mean by a 'sour expression?'"
Somewhere around page two Noah appears at the foot of the bed, laying quietly as I read. We get to the end of the first chapter. More questions follow, this time inquiring about the future of little Mary and why is the book called "Secret Garden?"
Finally I am able to shepherd Noah back to bed and when I return to check on Zoe I find her once again with her "Jack and Annie" book open in her lap. "I just want to read a little while."
Thirty minutes later I return to find her in much the same way and hear, "Just one more page!" Okay. Who am I to say no to that? When she is finished she comes to me. "I read two chapters tonight," she explains. "Books are my favorite thing. You must take care of them."
Yes! This is my daughter after all! When I am finally able to get her in bed I sat quietly, book in my hand, beaming with pride. Maybe "pride" isn't the right word. It's more like "Love." I've always loved Zoe. I always will. Seeing her find joy in something I love, like books, just makes it that much greater, if that's possible.
My little girl is growing up. Most of the time, that thought makes my chest tighten as I mentally try to slow time, but moments like tonight make me excited to see the woman my daughter will become.