Tonight my daughter crawled into my lap. I could tell something was bothering her, but I’d learned that prying often led to her withdrawing like a turtle deep into a protective shell where I could not reach her. But tonight when the house was silent and dark she crawled into my lap.
She is nineteen and taller than I am so her arms and legs sprawled out like necessary branches of a tree, but for all intents and purposes she was in my lap. I put my arms around her and waited. She had taught me to wait. She’d taught me she didn’t always need my words, advice, opinions, insight, wisdom, regrets or even my thoughts.
Usually she needed silence, listening, silence, listening and then more silence. Often she needed trust. Trust that she knew the answer. That she didn’t need my spoon feeding her my answers like I had spoon fed her pureed peas before she had teeth to chew. Failed attempts at communicating had been my best teacher. And so I waited simply cradling her in my lap.
Oh how I remember all the times I wished my lap to be free of her. Free of the demands of caring for her. Free of the weight of her small body. Free of the hours and minutes and days of tending to her needs. Free of her relentless questions that left my brain void of my own thoughts. Free of her arms wrapped around my neck like hungry snakes refusing to release their prey. Countless times I questioned whether my lap would ever be free again? Would I ever have a glorious lap full of nothing and no one?
But tonight there is nothing more my lap wants then to hold her for as long as she cares to stay. And so we sit in the quiet and dark of the sleeping house. With her in my lap, head against my shoulder, my arms around her. We wait. Maybe words will come. Perhaps they won’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that she is in my lap and I am blessed.