There are many parts of motherhood that I love. I love going to the zoo, having magic kisses that heal invisible wounds, taking the scooter or bike around the block, singing along to children's music and inventing new games that secretly teach things like counting by tens.
But my most favorite part of motherhood is story time and cuddles just before bed. Before I even knew I wanted to have my own children, I dreamed about having a child sit on my lap, holding a book for us to share. And from the moment we brought Clara home, I've cherished this activity at every nap time and night time.
We've gone through many favorite books. I remember CAT by Matthew Van Fleet with it's movable and tactile parts. We paused so long on each page that I started memorizing the name and breed of each cat featured. I've memorized the text in many books: Cows Can't Fly (David Milgrim), Goodnight Gorilla and 10 Minutes till Bedtime (Peggy Rathman), and the classic Dr. Seuss books Hop on Pop and Cat in the Hat. Clara has memorized and reads Go, Dog. Go! (P.D. Eastman), Zoo Looking (Mem Fox) and Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown). My heart has melted while snuggling up with Clara and Mama's Day (Linda Ashman and Jan Ormerod), or listening to Max read My Dad (Anthony Browne).
Clara's current favorite is the Frog and Toad series. She likes to study the Table of Contents first and choose which chapter(s) to read. We recently attended a school performance of the Frog and Toad musical, which prompted the purchase of the soundtrack that we listen to exclusively during every single car ride.
Tonight I read the chapter called Shiver from Frog and Toad; Max read Alone. Then Clara hugged Max goodnight and snuggled on my lap with the light out. She sucked her finger and twirled her hair.
"I had a great day with you, Mama," she sighed. Wow, I marvel. Today was full of errands, meetings and chores. I am extremely grateful that she cooperated; the day was certainly easier than I had expected and now she says it was a "great day."
"It was a great day, wasn't it?" I whisper. "I think you're fantastic."