I woke up more slowly than usual. Mike had already fed Winnie. She brought me a ball in bed, clambering up on top of the bedspread and proudly displayed her new ball-kicking skills into my bedhead. It was a soft ball.
We gathered up the day’s supplies (applesauce, clean dress, new stuffed bunny with a monocle) and tumbled out the door. Hello to neighbors and our sweet crossing guard, who dutifully marches Win and me across the intersection every morning. I wish she’d follow me around everywhere, making the way safe. I wish they’d make those uniforms out of cotton instead of whatever synthetic blend they’ve got, in a city with a thousand percent humidity and so much concrete.
Winnie said bye (“BYEEEEEE!”) to Mike on the swings, and I signposted the day for her. Swings, friends, nap, lunch, nap, friends, Mom, swings. The parent pushing one swing over freelances, too. It’s hard, it’s good, it’s different, we commiserated. Childcare costs. More time with them, moments fleeting (except they don’t fleet, they just are, stay mindful, stay present.) It’s good. It’s hard. But good.
On the one block walk to daycare, we pass older men holding their coffee in the way you hold a deli coffee, regular, one cream two sugars, thumb atop the lid, fingers curled beneath. Winnie waves hi, their eyes crinkle at the corners.
At daycare, Winnie jumps from my arms to join her cohort. Last week she didn’t cry for the first time. This week, the jumping. Next week, she’s hired? We’ll see. I rush out, balancing kisses and rituals with the impending WAIT ARE YOU LEAVING-LEAVING, MOM?
Pausing on the stoop outside, I hear Frere Jacques and no screams. No one on the sidewalk to greet, but the warmth from earlier hellos sticks around. I linger outside the open doors to the transept at the Immaculate Heart of Mary because I can hear the Words of Consecration and it feels odd to keep moving past them. I listen and breathe through the acclamation, the doxology, the Lord’s Prayer, and amble on, passing peace.
There is the garden, the library, the playground, the school. Back up the stairs to a humming laptop. Eight hours to squeeze it in before I can scoop her up again. I’ll need another cup of coffee, I think.