My daughter has begun to smile at me. It is a cheeky, gummy grin that lights her whole face with joy.
For weeks I have cared for her simply because I love her, because my instincts have told me that I should.
But something happens when a baby beams up at you for the first time. You lock eyes and your heart turns to mush in the glow of that smile. You feel as though all of your work and effort and selflessness means something. It isn’t to say that it didn’t mean anything before; but now, there is this radiant gift of gratitude, of connection.
You live for the next one. You wait in earnest.
It is such a simple, pure sign of affection, yet, it can be the little spark that keeps me going, some days.
(Am I sharing that spark? How long have I kept others waiting?)
Today, as my three year old woke in the early hours, I held him close and smiled brightly. (To show him how glad I am that he is my son; how thankful I am for the early mornings.)
Today, as my husband left for work, I stopped him and flashed my biggest smile. (To show him how much I appreciate his hard work; to let him know that in the bustle of the comings and goings, I remember our love.)
Today, as my six year old toiled over his school work, I smiled as he frowned in frustration. (To show him that I love him, even when he is struggling, even when he is angry.)
Today when I quickly looked over myself in the mirror, at the changing, aging face I sometimes do not recognize, I grinned at my own reflection. (To thank my body for housing my spirit.)
I smiled when I was tired. I smiled when I was hurried. I smiled when I was exasperated. I smiled even though each smile deepens the creases that have come to grace my face.
And do you know what happened? Each of them relaxed in the glow of my smile. Each of them smiled back.
And we all sat suspended, though it was brief, in a moment of joy and connection.