When I was pregnant, I imagined that being a mother would be like being a tour guide: I’d show my daughter the world. In retrospect, it seems so naive, even arrogant, to imagine that our relationship would be so one-sided. The truth is, she’s showing me as much as I’m showing her. The relationship between a parent and a child is dynamic, just like any relationship, with inputs coming from both sides.
In the past few weeks, Ali has taken to saying her own name, insistently and repeatedly, often to indicate her interest in holding or doing something. To wit: I take a sip of smoothie, and she wants some, too, so she says, “Ali-Ali!” I start to carry her up the stairs, but she wants to walk: “Ali-Ali!”
This is no passive tourist. This is tour guide in the making, herself.
Things she’s shown me so far:
- No matter how tired I am, I can rally to be present for her
- I have more physical strength than I ever knew
- Books are full of patterns that can be memorized
- Everything is a musical instrument, even radiator covers and high chair trays
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s a special resonance to this metaphor, for me, of being each other’s tour guides, because when Jordan and I got married, we vowed to “always show each other things we would never see alone.” Turns out Ali is part of that bargain, too. She knew it instinctively, and I’m finally cluing in, myself.
Photo taken by the tourism bureau in Cheltenham, England