In October and early November, I had to travel a fair amount for work. Michael and I also planned a couple’s weekend to Vegas as well as me joining him for his first ever marathon in his home country of Athens, Greece.
When I had a couple trips under my belt, I was sitting down with Leyla to talk through the rest of my schedule. I could see she was not happy (she is pretty easy to read). She looked me dead in the eyes and told me quite sternly, “Mama, you are grounded!!”
I was speechless. I wasn’t at all sure the right way to respond; this was completely new territory for me. Should I start by telling her kids don’t get to ground their parents? Or should I explain again why I thought it was important to take these trips? Or run her through all the things we would do together when I was back?
I decided none of those responses were the right ones looking into her deadly serious face with tears threatening. I could see she felt powerless in that moment. So instead, I sat down with her and created a calendar so she could mark off each day and see how many were remaining until I returned, my heart aching as we did it. And I was rewarded with a trademark Leyla grin.
I thought a lot about her surprising words in the following days and weeks. They had a variety of different meanings for me than those originally intended. She has grounded me in so many ways since she joined us our family on my birthday seven years ago.
1. She grounded me in what family really means; an intense connection and acceptance that transcends time and circumstance.
2. She grounded me on actively addressing inequity in the world because to her it is simply unfair and mama can and should do something. And she is someone I can't bear to disappoint.
3. She grounded me in the power of love to multiple. My love for her, hers for me; the love between her and her brothers and the special place she carved out as daddy’s little girl.
4. She grounded me in how inexplicably pain and joy can simultaneously coexist as she has cried in my arms for her first mom.
5. She grounded me in committing to being the best version of myself because I want to be the person she thinks I already am.
This little girl with the crazy awesome hair, the tinkling laughter of an angel, the squeezy hugs which warm from the inside out and those pointed questions that probe gently, and sometime not so, into the heart of things. Every bit of her complex and beautiful soul has grounded me in important ways; giving me priceless gifts I am just beginning to fully appreciate.
Thank you my sweet daughter. I am looking forward to spending this birthday, and hopefully many, many more, with you, your big brothers and your dad, celebrating the day of my birth but more importantly the day you joined our family! I am happy to be grounded.