I'm not good at 'once upon a time' beginnings, but I can tell you the one of the exact moments that struck me, my darling daughter.
You're five, I'm super pregnant, it's hot, and neither of us are really dressed to be meandering around in public, but here we are. At one of the busiest spots in the city; the farmers market. Your Dad and I brought you last month when it was much earlier and much less crowded, but we hadn't been back in a while.
You asked in the car on the way home from dropping Dad off at the barber shop if we could go to the place where you "walk up and down and get the vegetables," and thinking of the wilting, smelly bouquet on the dining table that needed to be replaced, I agreed.
It is so busy. There are cars coming in constant streams down the one way drive, people meandering everywhere so much more put together than I feel and look, but we hold hands and cross the road and pull $40 out of the ATM.
We've got nowhere else to be and all the time in the day so I let you lead to the places that draw your attention.
You spot an irresistible, overflowing counter of fuzzy peaches and insist you'll eat them if we get them, so we get those and the oddly shaped little ones that you laugh at when I tell you they're called 'donut peaches' and then you're pulling me along to the next stand.
Every fruit, every vegetable, every craft we come across, you ask if we need. I tell you 'no' and you accept it, hopping along till we make it to the end. There at the last stand there's a beautiful plant stand and I tell you to pick one to replace the one on Daddy's nightstand your cat ate. Of course you pick the most perfect plant there and try your best to convince me we need a giant hibiscus bush, but I insist we leave it behind because I'm just way too pregnant to even think about planting it in our drought stricken yard.
"Wanna walk back up again?" I ask. Of course you say yes, looking around and taking everything in. The people, the noise, the sights, the smell. It's not long before you squeal and find the one treasured possession of the day.
You run your hands through a bucket of shimmering peacock feathers, making them shift from green to blue, to purple and back. You beg me to buy some not knowing I would have bought you the whole bucket to freeze this moment, but in moderation I tell you to pick one.
"Can I get five?" You ask, practically pleading and looking up at me with the most hopefully face I'd seen in a week.
"Sure." I ask the farmer behind the stand for two bunches of golden sunflowers and pay for your feathers.
You decide you're ready to go home and grab ahold of my hand again and start heading toward the car, in a cloud of bliss carrying and twirling your feathers as I juggle the load of sunflowers in my other hand.
And it's that moment. Looking down at the top of your head, your hair reflecting the yellow of the sunflowers, you completely absorbed in how amazing your feathers are. It wasn't exactly a moment of gratefulness, or of awe, or of anything really.
It was just a moment when time stopped and everything else seemed to fade away for a minute. In my years of being your Mom, there have been many moments like this, but every year, each one becomes something to reflect on. A memory of a period in life and so I try my best to pay attention and collect them like the box of pressed pennies we have from trips. Because this trip, of being your Mom, is by far the best trip of all.