Dot Dot Dot

Just last week, in the kitchen, where she was still not yet tall enough to reach the pistachios, she asks, “Where’d you guys get me?”

“From heaven,” says Ken, one room over, because he comes up with great, short answers, the kind that end in a period. Factual. Truth. A statement. My sentences end in an ellipses, always, even when I don’t want them to. I leave them – unintentionally – open for interpretation, for more questions and ponderings, continually challenging whether a new perspective might spin the truths I know onto their side, uncovering a new, different, higher number on the die.

“In a box, at the door?” she asks me, and I’m reminded that she’s still discovering her own numbers, her own set of dice.

“Well…” Another ellipsis.

There are parenting moments that hit me, every so often, when I’m smacked by the reality that I am her mother and she is my daughter and we will spend our days together doing things that mothers and daughters do. I felt it, the first time, while tying her shoes in the park. It occurred to me that this was a very motherly thing to do, that one might look in our direction and see a nurturing mother and her doting, beloved daughter. One might see a woman who, surely, ends her sentences with a period.

Back in the kitchen, I pause. Another ellipsis. I was unprepared for this conversation, one that seemed worlds away and one that bears no weight to a toddler now, but might certainly bear weight to the teen she will become, and how are we to know which conversations will settle like sediment and which will float away to the shore?

I struggle to choose my words carefully, and then I simply say some version of this:

“You came from my belly, where you grew and grew until you were big enough to join us, and now here you are, helping me with dinner and asking big questions that I won’t always answer correctly but will always try really, really hard.”

“Did my heart come in a box?” she says, as if she hadn’t heard the previous sentence, as if she’s already wandered further down the road of her own path, in search of daisies.

“No, your heart came from God,” I say, and I realize, it was a statement. It was a sentence that ended in a period, because there was no doubt in my mind, there was never a doubt in my mind.

And then she scampered to the dining room, her stuffed panda in hand, her dotted blanket trailing behind. She was comfortable and secure in that answer, for now, and it was almost as if we both silently agreed that she’d keep asking more. She must always keep asking more.

I remember a moment when she was a fussy baby – not yet a year – where the only thing that promised to settle her in the morning was a quiet voice, softly pointing out objects: desk, chair, art, vase, bottle, dish, pillow. We’d make our way throughout the home – my finger pointing, her eyes searching –  and when I arrived in the living room, I paused.

Ellipsis.

Is it a couch or a sofa? Do I teach her the term I was raised to know – couch – or the term I had come to find out was a more proper, polished version of the same word?

And it seemed so big. It seemed so life-altering in those days, when choices stacked upon each other like the towered blocks we’d build in the afternoon sun. Would one choice make the tower fall?

Would one ellipsis, one pause, one doubt, one missed opportunity, one wrong answer – would one anything cause everything to crumble to the ground? Would I ruin Rome in a day?

Of course not, I have come to believe. Of course it will not crumble, unless it does, and we will never know whether the crumbling was our doing, or something else. Who’s to say what was designed to fall, or what was simply left untreated, unprotected in one small area?

But in those weighty newborn moments, I could not have known. I still cannot know, even now, less than three years in, what the future will hold for a mother, her daughter – this family – with a couch-or-is-it-sofa and an inquiring mind.

And so, perhaps my ellipsis is the best thing I can offer. Perhaps the only answer I can give, in her moments of questioning, is an “I don’t know.” An “I’m not sure.” A “Let’s try and figure it out together.”

Why is the sky blue? Dot dot dot.

Why do bad things happen? Dot dot dot.

Will you always be here for the asking? Yes. Yes, of course I will.

  • So beautifully written! I’m always taken back by the “motherly things” I do, like hold my daughter’s hand when we take a walk outside, or how I wipe her little mouth from all the strawberries she’s eaten. It’s an overwhelming emotion if you let yourself get taken in by it. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • First, let me say that your writing continually blows me away and I applaud you for your blog and your approach to life in general. This post reminded me of the time when I was in a restaurant with my then 3 year old son. In a 3yr old “outside” voice, he asked where he came from. It was as if time stopped and all the other diners were waiting to hear my response. Recalling having been told that the simplest answers were often best, I responded “from the hospital”. That was a satisfactory answer for the time and place. My son is now 25 and clearly wasn’t damaged by that response. He’s turned into a wonderful and caring young man who looks forward to having children of his own. Enjoy these moments with Bee – no matter the punctuation.

  • Reading your posts makes me feel like I’m strolling through a field of wild flowers. Or down a beach. Or through the woods. Depending on the topic. They make me think, and reflect, and relate. And I just loved this one. It was a walk through a meadow with my son.

  • Ah, those tricky deep little questions. I love it! My girls are almost 7 and 4 and we still get at least one a week. If only we thought as deeply about life as they do!

    p.s. My girls and I just learned why the sky is blue during a science lesson!!! Ha! We see color as a result of light waves, that bounce off objects, and then hit our eyes. The colors we don’t see are the light waves absorbed by given object.

    For example, the reason a yellow house appears yellow is because all other colors but yellow light waves are absorbed by the house. The long yellow waves bounce off and tell us the house is yellow.

    When the sun shines through our sky, short-waved light bounces off stuff in the atmosphere. Blue light has short waves. When the sun’s light is absorbed in our atmosphere it’s the blue light that bounces off. Cool, huh?! I never knew and I never thought to ask!

    p.p.s. Your writing is like a patch of blue sky; thank you. I am glad I discovered your blog!

  • Your thought process about whether to teach her “couch” or “sofa” had me smiling because I do that too! I attach so much importance to every little thing. I try to find the balance of taking every interaction seriously without getting overwhelmed by that responsibility.

    I can be a very literal person sometimes and I find it very hard to simplify things. So these open-ended questions the kiddos ask (like “where is heaven”) are hard for me! Is it past the sky? Another realm? How do we know how much to explain? Hoping the Spirit will guide me. :)

  • I’m more of an open-ended answerer too, Erin. :) And I try to remember on those rare occasions that everything DOES crumble, that I’d rather rebuild than hold up a shaky foundation. In theory, anyway [dot dot dot] ;)

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