Sometimes when I’m rocking Clara to sleep with my head resting against her cheek, I’ll unthinkingly lift my head. What I thought were the sleeping hands of a sleeping baby will rise up and push against my ear, insisting that I lay my head back on her cheek. Clara will also be in the middle of playing with her baby or her puzzles and get up, grip my or Aaron’s leg, and give it a kiss. She loves us.
And yet, when I arrive to pick her up from Mandy’s each day, she bolts the other way. She was playing outside with Bekah and Mandy one afternoon and when she saw my car pull up, she started running the other direction. Other times when I walk into the house—“Mom’s here, Clara!,” I call encouragingly—she dashes up the stairs. She also loves playing at the Pieh’s.
Here, I thought, it has started. I feel lucky that I can drop Clara off at various “Kid’s Corners” and leave her while I work out, go to the church service, grocery shop, etc., and as she immerses herself in coloring or block-building, I might get a half-hearted wave over the shoulder and a little kiss if I go up and put my cheek in front of her lips. I’m discovering that it’s natural, if not healthy, for a child to love her parents even if it means she doesn’t always wants to be with them.
It makes me wonder what kind of love we can expect from our children at each phase, but even as I type that I think maybe that’s what is unique about a parent’s love for her children—it’s the one love that doesn’t come with expectations. It’s good to have friends, siblings, teachers, and even spouses who have expectations; heck, expectations made me the girl I am today. But, it’s also good to have that one love in your life that might ask a lot of you but doesn’t depend on the answers. A love that keeps its arms open even when you’re running across the room to hide.
Here’s Clara being all cute and uttering one of her first two-word sentences.