Singular, Multiplied

I’m outside on my patio, cleaning up after the day’s fun, when I catch a glimpse of my daughter in the corner of my eye. I stop my day’s chores to watch her, spinning alone in the living room with a puppy and a monkey tied to an old string. She twirls and dances with her friends, oblivious to the fact that I’m watching her, absorbed in her own little world. Her face is full of wide eyed wonder as she watches the universe go zooming around her, and my heart is filled with admiration at this child that I too often fail to see for what she is…one child, a singular person, a creature of earth and of me and of God.

She moves uninterrupted in front of the tv screen, around the laundry basket, beside the couch, dancing to her own rhythm in a space that has opened up for her. No one is telling her to ohmygodmoveyouareblockingthemovie, no one is snatching the toys out of her hand because they’re not hers, no one is doing anything and she is wallowing in the silence. Her brothers have gone on vacation with their grandmother, and for the first time in her life, she isn’t the third child…she is the only child.

Our family has never had an only child. Our second baby came on the heels of our first baby; the only way I’ve ever seen my children is through each other’s eyes, and that is the most glorious way to come to know a person, by how they are perceived by the people who love them. Tonight, however, I watch her though the window, fancy and free, uninhibited and unrestrained, and I ache in my heart with the knowing that this child, raw and wild, is here every moment of the day, waiting for her moment to shine through.

The space she occupies is a vacuum that draws everything into it, helpless to resist her tiny little charms. The energy in the room yields for her, the air parts to make way for her dance, the dust that has settled into the crevices of our life joins her in raucous celebration of nothing. The void that is created by the absence of her brothers is merely her personal challenge to fill with grandeur and delight and unmitigated beauty. For two weeks, she will own her surrounds. She will know what is it that she can be when given the space, and I will bear witness to it from afar.

There is a difference between my children and my child. The difference lies in the way her blond curls bounce with the pounding of her feet, the way her waist bends when she has all the room in the world to spin it. The difference lies in the quiet moments they spend in their life apart from each other, allowed to find their own, unencumbered rhythm without scrutiny or consequence. The difference lies in the space they are given to spread their arms and just spin. The difference lies in their singularity, multiplied.

Each one of my children is also my child, unique to themselves. I can’t imagine my life without all three of them, and I can’t imagine their lives without each other. Having a family with three children is gloriously complicated and intricately unrelenting, and as I steal this private moment she’s having in the rarest of moments when no one is watching her, in the fragment of time when she is completely free, I am awe-struck by the simplicity of her perfection.