This morning, as I drove Olivia to Sunday school, she remarked that it had been a long time since we'd had our last "Mommy Day." I agreed with her. It has been over a month, longer than we usually go without spending dedicated special time together. She and I tried to plan when our next one would be; and, to our mutual disappointment, we discovered that it would be at least 4 weeks away.
"Oh," said Olivia in a quiet voice, "that's not good."
"No, it isn't" I agreed.
When we pulled up to the church, I found that, due to the adjacent college's open house, there was no parking to be found. I double parked with my flashers on and walked her to the door of the rectory.. which was locked. Everyone was waiting for the person with the key to show up (not an unusual circumstance).
As we waited, I noted the blue of the sky. It was so clear today, it seemed to hold endless possibilities. And yet, there I was locked out of the classroom but still locked into the usual routine, despite the downcast eyes and palpable sadness of my too big little girl.
Suddenly, I saw the signs and refused to lose another minute.
"C'mon, Livy -- let's go!"
And so we did. I grabbed her hand and together we ran back to the car, revved the engine, and streaked out into the world together.
Moments later, seated at Olivia's favorite place to have breakfast in the entire world, she was positively glowing over her hot cocoa and chocolate chip pancakes. I'm sure I was too, as I basked in the warmth of her big brown eyes, and talked with her about her favorite books, her new art class, the silly things her friends have said, and her desire to redecorate her bedroom ("I'm a big girl now, Mommy.")
I've always lived by "the rules." My "wild" youth was embarrassingly tame, and as I'm growing older and looking back, though I am proud of all I have accomplished; I sometimes regret the chances I didn't take.. simply because I wasn't "supposed to."
Olivia and I both knew what we were "supposed to" do today. But we also knew that there was something else that needed attention. I want to teach my daughter responsibility and commitment, so that one day she too can look back at her accomplishments with pride, knowing she has done "right." But I also want her to know that, despite all the supposed-to-have-dones, there is nothing more important than living in love and in the present, and to miss that would leave the deepest regret.
I don't want Olivia to only remember that her mother always did what she was supposed to do -- I want her to know that her mother loved her wildly. That responsibilities and commitments may justly run our lives, but it is love that rules them.
I promise I will take her to Sunday school as scheduled next week. But, I don't regret our truancy a bit. And, somehow, I think God understands, as only a fellow loving parent can.