There are dishes in my sink.
Instead of standing, hands submerged in suds, back to my daughters, I’m sitting aside Cora. She spoons sugar into my mug with the words, “One lump or two?” She asks this again as she adds milk. I ask for two. Two sugar, two milk. I love my tea sweet and creamy.
The yellow tea pot still hot from steeping, Cora winds a red dish cloth around its base and carefully, carefully pours my tea. She placed the cloth on the table for this very purpose when she set out small plates and mugs for our post breakfast fete.
“Is that enough, Mommy?” The tea barely touches the midpoint of my mug. I ask for a spot more. She happily continues pouring.
I love these moments. I pause and hold them in my heart palm as long as possible, breathing in the warmth. I am here, with my youngest, sipping tea and nibbling toast. I said yes to a tea party. Yes to being in a moment with my child without distraction.
It isn’t much, ten minutes together. Some days I find it easy to fold in the fun and the spontaneous, the “yes.” Other days my relentless “must get done” list overwhelms and I push away such requests. Bedtime arrives and I look down at my children and wonder if I interacted or played with even one. With three kids, one would think this would be a given, an easy feat! Yet there are many days I regret not pausing from my grindstone sight to play for even half an hour. This is the unspoken paradox of stay-at-home moms.
Any mother knows the relentless theme song we all play internally, the well worn “not enough” track. As in: I did not get enough done today, I did not give enough, exercise enough, smile or play or be gentle enough. That not-enough can grow mighty mountainous.
Here, as I sit with Cora, I am exactly enough. Although, I wouldn’t use that word. A tea party with Cora is beyond enough. It is presence. Love. When I weave a few beads of these present moments into my day, their light buoys. These small “yes” moments keep my focus on the wonder and the beauty of my life. Certainly there are countless responsibilities to attend to, amassing into a pile far larger than my dishes, but this one is my favorite: attending to the essence of my relationship with my girls.
I will always raise a mug to that.