She sits in the crook of my arm for a good portion of the weekend as we read through Anne of Green Gables. At five, she understands the highlights of the story and may get lost in the details, but she asks for it, she sits through it, and we bond through it.
These days we connect through reading aloud together, the twinkle of an eye, and an extra long hug.
And I wonder, when did our relationship become so sweet?
I remember how we had scheduled our first born's routines by the book and he was so compliant that we took that method as the golden rule [Do unto your daughter as you have done unto your son] and set out to schedule her routines, as well.
It didn't work.
It didn't work.
I remember when she was two and her younger brother was born, and feeling that I had not held her enough.
I remember when she was two-and-a-half and we had given her crib to her baby brother, moved her to a toddler bed, and willed her to stay in bed.
I recall trying many of the tools for gaining compliance that worked for her older brother, ignorantly attempting to conform her behavior to his temperament, and she demanding in a fit of tantrums that we see her for her own individual likeness.
And although we had countless lovable moments and loved her the best we knew how through the fits, I still recall those struggles more readily than I do the tender moments.
Then just over a year ago, I crept into her room after everyone was tucked into bed. I didn't care anymore that I could be forming a drawn-out bedtime habit. We sat on her bed and took turns braiding each others hair–she telling me stories and singing words she'd think up, spilling out evidence of her heart; then we'd conclude with me rubbing her back, reading Letters to a Princess, and praying with her. It was no less than forty-five minutes later that I would close the door to her room for the night.
This became our nightly ritual for the next several months.
Today, we more naturally weave tender moments throughout the day. She doesn't need me forty-five minutes at night anymore. But when I think about how this tapestry of a sweet relationship was formed, I can trace it back only as far as just over a year ago when I crept into her room and we began braiding hair and weaving hearts.
I didn't know it at the time how necessary this habit would be, but I pray with all of my heart now that this dependency will continue to be a safe haven of treasured moments interwoven throughout her growing years.
And I pray that we will weave this bond strong and tight as I continue to release what I think compliance should look like and study closer the threads of her heart.
This article was originally published on Mom Heart Online in July 2012