"Mama," she said, pointing towards the windows on the far side of the living room. Realizing she had something to show me, I followed.
I found this little exchange so charming. This is probably not the first time Elena has communicated, without words, that she has something she'd like me to see. But being that she's the second child, so many of the wonderful little things she does go unnoticed. Oh I remember the big stuff; the first night she slept alone in her bassinet instead of practically on top of me, her first word (Hi), the first steps she took on the tennis court at the park down the street. But the little stuff; the first time she smiled, the first time she sat up on her own, the first time she rolled over, even though they all happened more recently than Eliza's firsts, I don't remember them. It seems like the first 21 months of Elena's life have passed in a blur.
In fact, most days while Eliza's in school, Elena and I barely spend any time together. I am forcing myself to excercise so I do that while she plays in the playroom. Then I get sidelined by chores, phone calls, work-related activities. She and I hardly ever do things together where as with Eliza I hosted puppet shows, we went to the park constantly, I took 1,000 photos per week.
So today, I followed, excited to have this tiny interaction with her. I hoped that she wasn't going to show me another broken lamp. She toddled over to a shelf that holds several photographs, all of them including at least one of the three of us. She pointed to the only photo of me with both girls, her finger resting on me.
"Mama!" she said, grinning so broadly I thought her face might break. "Mama!" she said tapping the glass again.
The photo was taken sometime in the fall. It's from our back porch. I know it was taken after mid-August because we're sitting on an overturned canoe that belonged to my neighbor. On that day, she pulled up in her car and we waved down to her. She took out her camera and snapped the photo. I'm in the middle, the farthest from the camera. Elena is camera right, in the foreground, her hands on the bars of the porch. Eliza sits forward on my other side, grinning. I remember being so happy when my neighbor gave me the photo. There are very few photos of the three of us.
Elena was so happy with her ingenuity. She had recognized me in a photo. I'd like to say she recognized herself and her sister but she just kept pointing to me and smiling. There I was, her Mama, grinning unblinkingly from someplace else while I also stood beside her. I held up a photo taken six years ago of myself with baby Eliza but she didn't seem to recognize me. I tapped another photo of myself, cuddled against an actor for a show I worked on a long time ago. Elena didn't say anything, going back to the photo of the three of us and saying "Mama!"
I kissed her round, cottony cheek. My little Elena. I might not spend much time with her, but every now and then, we have a moment. It's not enough, I don't know that it's ever enough but it's going to have to do.