She is a tangle of long legs and curly red hair as she comes flying toward me . Her image steadies and the happiness on Olivia’s glowing face is unmistakable. I reach out, scooping her into a hug. Her small hands are brushing the hair away from my face and behind my ear. I feel her soft shallow breath against my cheek. Her first kiss lands close to my chin, the second on the tip of my nose. I brush my lips with hers and fill her face with tiny kisses.
I hold her close as I try to reconcile where the years have gone.. She will be five soon and today she seems like a new child and not the preschooler I left behind five days ago. I put her down and we begin to walk hand-in-hand. We are walking at a leisurely pace, but my thoughts run quickly. Has my absence refreshed my perspective?. Is this who she has been all along? Or has she matured in these five days- blossomed under her father’s care?
As we move through the continuatiion of our trip,together as a family, I see more.
I see a new constant confidence- as she places her hands on her hips and flings her hair over her shoulder . She offers fresh insightful four -year -old ideas in moments of family discussion and indecision.
She moves through our itinerary with an adventurous spirit of independence- understanding what is expected of her and enjoying the freedom of change and her ability to accomplish tasks without reminders.
She exhales her emotion with each breath- delight, dissatisfaction, anxiety, her desires.She communicates effectively.
She exhibits her intelligence as she responds to logic and reason. Explanations of why our plans have changed on this trip. How playtime outside and dinner in a new fun restaurant have been replaced with an efficient mealtime and a long car drive back to the hotel due to an unexpected illness.
She still comes to me for care and affection but regards her father differently. She smiles at him like before, but her eyes radiate a new light. More frequently it is his approval she seeks and his time she wants to share. I believe that in these five days they spent together he gave her a very special gift of love. A gift that I did not think to give her, that I didn’t realize she needed. New independence, a gift that was long overdue.
Check back soon for 5 more scenes from our 7 day trip......