Saturday, April 26, 2008

Still Life with Ava

This morning the Saddleback Mothers of Multiples club had their semiannual garage sale, an event not to be missed if you 1) have kids and 2) love a good bargain. I had been planning to go with my friend Shannon and leave the kids with Brian for the morning. But then I started thinking (always dangerous) that perhaps this would be a good opportunity to get a little one-on-one time with one of the kids. I usually end up doing this with Cate because for some reason she seems to need it more than either Jack or Ava. But then I feel bad for not spending time with Jack or Ava, because I'm sure they would enjoy it too (??) they simply aren't as vocal/dramatic about it. Of course, few people are as vocal/dramatic as Cate, so perhaps I should stop using her as my behavioral yard stick. Just a thought.

So in the end I decided to take Ava, as I figured she would be more interested in the prospect of shopping than Jack, given that fact that she is seriously morphing in to a pint sized fashionista. I fully expect her to start channeling Stacy London any day now. And boy will I be in trouble. But no matter, for now she still thinks that as long as something is either green or has Tinkerbell on it (double bonus points for both!), it is the epitome of haute couture. So off we went.

We were cruising down the 5, on the way to pick up Shannon, and I was suddenly struck by how quiet the car was. Perhaps she had fallen back asleep? I glanced up in to the rear view mirror, and she was wide awake, gazing out the window, watching the scenery. We finally got off the freeway, and when we came to a stop I turned around to look at her to make sure she was OK. Her eyes met mine and her face broke out into the most radiant smile of pure happiness; if I could capture the essence of that smile and distill it I could live on it for the rest of my life.

And this is why I have to make the time to hang out with each of my children, individually and alone. When they are together the more subtle aspects of each of their personalities get drowned out by the tidal wave of cacophony and chaos that defines our lives. But when you pluck an individual child out of that whirlwind, you can begin to see the fine details that make them who they are. It is like coming in to the house on a bright summer day; at first everything is dark but as you relax into the moment your eyes begin to focus and you can see the features of the room, the multiple shades that intertwine to give depth and substance to the whole.

Ava is not afraid of quiet, of stillness. She drinks everything in, every glorious stimulating drop; it becomes a part of her, animating her from within. She doesn't need constant motion, constant noise to be at ease. I hope she will always have this power; the power to be still and know that you ARE.

My quiet wonderful mysterious girl.

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