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Friday, June 17, 2011

Quantity time

A director I worked with once told me that when it comes to parenting, a parent should aim for quantity time, not quality time. He said quality time is something that's not planned it just happens. So if you spend as much time as you can with your kids, the real quality moments will happen when you least expect it. He spoke of elaborate family trips to parks, vacations, when the kids were often happiest just playing in the backyard.

I had to have routine blood work done today and with no babysitters, had to drag the girls. Two other men waited in the waiting room when we arrived with a third right behind us. I signed in and planned to keep Elena in the stroller because I didn't want her running around the waiting room. Elena struggled to get out. Eliza leaned in and kissed her.

"Mom, she really, really wants to come out," Eliza said, just in case I didn't notice that Elena was straining to get out of her three point harness. "Please, mom, can't we please take her out?"

I refused at first, but seeing that it might take a while, I decided to free her. Elena was elated, practically jumping out of the stroller. Once her feet were on the ground, Elena put her little hands on her hips and started doing her little knee bends.

"You're a dancer," a man seated across from us said.

"I'm a real dancer," Eliza said, rising into a releve. "I'm going to take hip hop this summer."
"Hip hop!" Elena echoed.

"You're not taking hip hop, I am," Eliza said, arabesquing. "She's too little to take dance class."

"You're a good dancer," the man said. "I have a niece who dances too."

Eliza and Elena joined hands and started dancing together. And then Elena started jumping. Two feet on and off the ground, real jumps.

"She's really jumping!" Eliza said, excited. "Before she couldn't do a real jump."
Elena giggled with glee. I watched her jump and realized Eliza may have been right. This may have been the first time Elena did real jumps. How did my daughter see things that I didn't even notice? How could a five-year-old be this observant, this proud?

"She's so cute!" Eliza said, cuddling her up. "You can jump now! Look at my baby!"

"That's a really good big sister," some man said as his name was called, just in case I wasn't aware of this. Believe me, I might be walking around in a fog half the time, but I know Eliza really is an extraordinary child.

This morning I told her I was very worried about Grandma, that we had a lot of not fun things to do and that I'd need her to be understanding and cooperative. And she was. She took Elena into the playroom and let me exercise. She let me make phone calls. She made the most of our time at the lab, a few other errands and then our trek to the hospital to pick mom up.

At the end of the day, Eliza thanked me for a wonderful day. She said her favorite part was when I went to give blood. It may have been the highlight of my day too. Now that school's out and beyond the Disney trip we don't have too many summertime plans, we will have plenty of quantity/quality time.

I don't really know how much time I have with my mother. In truth, none of us knows how much time we have with anyone. Elena is so attached to my mother, I want so much for my mom to be here long enough for Elena to remember her. There's no way of knowing how advanced my mother's cancer is until they do the surgery and if the surgery doesn't work, that's it. There's no other treatment. I think so much of why I'm so happy to be with my mother and my girls together is because my mother really loves me. C stopped loving me shortly after Eliza was born (I became competition) so the entire time I was with him, I never knew what it was like to just be a family without bitterly being viewed as a rival. With my mom, I get to feel like a real family.

My mother is a great person and now her eldest granddaughter is a great child. Everything that is great about my mother and her family, is in my daughter. I am so happy and so proud to be the primary caregiver of this child.

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