What My Wife Knows

My oldest daughter, Olivia, took a shower last night and my wife cried.

I asked what was upsetting her and she said it was nothing.

But, of course, it is never Nothing.

Olivia turned eight this year. She is obsessed with making movies on her iPad, she is goofy, and sweet, stubborn and still vulnerable in a heart wrenchingly beautiful way.

When she was two, we went to the supermarket around Christmas time, she sat in the special seat in the shopping cart and wore a red santa cap the entire time. She didn’t really want to, but she wore it because it made me happy. (It was insanely cute.)

At five, she had her first Kindergarten choir concert. She wore a little white dress. She got on stage, the music started, and Olivia just started crying and did so through all three songs. Stage fright, which she has since overcome, to the extreme.

When she was 6 we went to the Father/Daughter Dance where we danced just twice together. Then, I just followed her around like a groupie in a suit as she socialized, drinking red punch, all the time wearing a glow-in the dark necklace.

Afterwards, we held hands in the parking lot as we walked to the car. At one of the craft tables she had made a lace circle with a red heart that said “I Love Dad”, it is still hangs above her dresser.

There are easily five thousand other moments that have made up her life so far, which are now like highway exit signs seen from a moving car, places we’ve been, but can’t visit again.

We often chronicle the first time something happens, but the last time something will happen, can sneak right by you.

Michele knows that Olivia has had her last bath.

It sounds like a small thing, but it isn’t. It is the loss of fifteen soapy minutes spent in the collapsed, private universe of only Mother and Daughter.

It adds up to more than an hour a week, filled with giggles, singing and small important secrets whispered between members of an exclusive club that has held this meeting like clockwork for the last 8 years.

But little girls grow up and baths stop. Mommy becomes Mom. We pass another sign.

My wife instinctively knows that the messy Saturday pancake breakfasts, movie nights and tickle fights, are shiny gold coins, fleeting, precious and perfect, and should be held as tightly as possible.

The girls have fallen asleep in our bed, sprawled in all different directions.
I think I will just let them sleep this time.

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