“Do you want to dress up all fancy for the play?”
Lydia nodded her head and jumped up and down. “Yes, Daddy!”
It was the Friday night showing of the high school play, Sense and Sensibility. When Sam found out that there would be romance in the play he immediately opted for a sleepover at a friend’s house. So it was just me, Lydia and Ali, all dressed to the nines. I had my fancy suit on, Ali had a lovely black dress looking like a supermodel and then Lydia rolled out. She had on her sparkliest dress with blue stockings, white strappy sandals, pink sunglasses and her little Vera Bradley purse filled with all manner of eclectic items she might need. Her hair was done up in two giant pig tails, flapping all about. While waiting for Mommy to put the finishing touches on her makeup, Lydia decided she was hungry. She snatched an apple and started chomping away looking like some sort of character out of a cartoon movie.
Lydia was practically bouncing up and down with excitement, little bits of apple spewing out of her mouth as she chattered away unable to contain her anticipation. We were going to see a real show! When we arrived at the auditorium we were greeted with live music and a real red carpet. Lydia did a twirl and then dragged me inside before I could start, as she calls it, “chit chatting.” She wanted to find our seats so we’d be ready.
The play began, and she was completely immersed, bouncing back and forth between her seat and Mommy’s lap, but by the end of the first act she was losing steam. A cinnamon roll at intermission briefly picked up her spirits, but it was way past her bedtime. Then came the sugar crash, and when it became clear that she wasn’t going to be able to fall asleep on Mommy. It was time for our exit. The lights went dim, and we made a break for it. By the time we got to the back of the auditorium her little legs were moving in slow motion, so I picked her up. She grinned.
Outside, Lydia glittered in the soft light of the full moon shining overhead. She rested her head on my shoulder whispering into my ear about her favorite parts of the show. Her eyes were getting droopy.
“I love you to the moon and back again,” I whispered.
“I know.” She smiled.
We walked in silence across the soccer field towards home, and stared up at the brilliant moon illuminating our path. My arms were exhausted, but there was no way I was going to put down this little pigtailed darling. The day is going to come when she’ll be able to sit through an entire show and won’t need me to carry her home; when she won’t want to dress up and coordinate our outfits. So I treasured the moment. I took a picture in my mind of the moonlight and her little body nestled into my chest.
There are so many days where parenting is exhausting and difficult, and I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. In the midst of the hubbub of doing life I often forget to appreciate the gift of parenthood. I’m just trying to make sure everybody is fed and relatively clean. Homework and piano practice are a bonus. Then moments like last night filled with unexpected beauty and joy happen. Sparkly dresses, lingering in the moonlight, and joy breaking forth. I’m reminded of the gift I’ve been given to be a dad, and I am grateful.
“I love you to the moon and back again, Lydia. I always will. Just don’t grow up too fast.”