A vignette on working motherhood.
It's not quite a routine yet, but it is growing into one.
On Mondays, while Mommy works late, Daddy picks her up from school and takes her to the library. We have a local branch just up the hill from our home, whose hours go just late enough to fit in a visit every two weeks when her books are due.
She and Daddy go into the library, return the books we've been reading at bedtime, and select some new ones. The children's collection is set apart in an enchanted nook filled with a play table, a touch screen computer loaded with educational games, and books galore. Usually, she and Daddy select from the books the librarians have curated and put on display around the room--it is easier to see the covers of these themed books than it is for her little girl's fingers to flip through the narrow-spined collection shelved along the walls. Right now, her favorite author is Dr. Seuss. They load up on new selections from his prolific body of work, and ask to renew her current favorite, Green Eggs and Ham (or Sam-I-am as we like to call it). She visits the play table while Daddy uses her card to check out their new collection of books for bedtime reading these next two weeks. And since the library will soon close, Daddy is able to convince her to come along so the librarians can get ready to go home for the day.
There is still one more stop before returning home for (an albeit late) dinner.
They walk two houses down to Mr. Bob and Miss June's house. They are friends of ours, and she likes to call on them with Daddy after she visits the library. When they are home, it means nibbling on some snacks to hold her over until they return home for dinner. And it means picking wildflowers for Mommy.
Miss June has wildflowers in her garden. The ladies--generations apart--gather select blooms while the gentlemen visit with each other. I imagine she looks for pink blooms whenever possible, as it is her favorite color right now, and so she wants to give the color to Mommy, who must work late tonight and most nights.
The ladies return to the parlor, wildflowers in hand, signalling the end of the visit. Daddy must bring her home for dinner now, so the friends say their goodbyes in the growing dusk.
When I return home from work after 10 pm, she is already asleep. But waiting for me on the counter is a makeshift vase filled with wildflowers. It is a material trace of my absence-yet-presence in the evenings, when I must be the librarian for other young people at the university a stone's throw away.
It hurts, my absence. But having tangible proof of just how well cared for she is, by her Daddy and by our neighborhood community we've grown to love, helps. It helps because I know she is okay, and it helps because I can see in the wildflowers' blooms that she thinks of me when I am gone.
Each morning after wildflower picking with Miss June, when we come down for breakfast, she excitedly shows off the wildflowers she has picked for me. I thank her with a big squeezy-hug, and proceed into another long day of mothering and working.