Dances with My Daughter

By Heather Grace Stewart
Web Exclusive – March 13, 2009

Little girl painting on floor“Ring around the Rosy. Pocket full a posy” my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter sings happily as she pours a cup of pretend tea for me. Today is going to be a more productive day, I think as I type this. But I know better.

I’m a work-at-home freelance writer, mommy, and wife. Today I have my toddler home with me, and an 800-word magazine article to write, three loads of laundry to do, a new book to try to market, and dozens of emails to answer.

I decide to focus on my looming deadline while the laundry is in the wash. My little one is happily having tea with her teddy bears. Great, I can get some research done at least. Research my topic for 40 minutes or so, then go do a puzzle with my girl, I think.

All is quiet. I’m getting stuff done. Seven minutes goes by. Seven whole quiet minutes, and I’m in heaven! Then I realize: she’s too quiet. Too quiet, as most parents know, is not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.

I turn my swivel chair around to find my daughter nearly in tears, screaming, “I am pooping! I am POOOPING!” I quickly scoop her up, offering, “You tried, it’s OK—it was an accident,” and sprint downstairs to the washroom, praying we’ll make it.

We don’t make it.

Fifteen minutes later, I’m on my knees, washing the floor, holding my nose as I pick up a putrid trail all the way from my office to the washroom. My newly clean and carefree girl is on the computer—you guessed it—accidentally deleting the only two sentences I’d written for my article.

When I find her there, I almost lose it. This is just one more day in a long line of exhausting days like this. But I compose myself, take a deep breath, and ask her to please not touch Mommy’s computer when Mommy isn’t there.

A kindness in her eyes and the lull of the music playing on my computer at that moment sparks something deep inside my heart. I pick her up and swing her around, giggling with her as we dance cheek to cheek to “The Riddle”: “the reason for the world is you and me, and we’re all we’ve got on this bouncing ball, and I love you free.”

“Mommy?” she asks me while we continue twirling to the music.

“Yes, honey?”

“Mommy, you are my sunshine!” she grins and holds me tighter.

That is the simple answer to how and why I do this. How and why I woke up this morning with a smile on my face and the energy to face another chaotic day all over again.

I know for certain that I’m making a difference in my daughter’s life. Nothing else really matters.

Heather Grace Stewart’s poems have been published in a number of journals and anthologies. She has also penned two non-fiction books for youth published by Jackfruit Press and writes regularly for the Queen’s Alumni Review, Canadian Wildlife magazine and Wild! magazine for children. Her photographs have appeared in Equinox and National Geographic Traveler magazines and on the cover of a dozen poetry books. Visit her at her official website, hgrace.com.