A Day with Princess Aurora

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It was still dark outside, the stars were out and she was probably in the final stages of the deepest part of her sleep cycle. I was wide awake and dressed, rushing around collecting my keys, my gloves and other things that get dumped into the cavernous spaces of my large, brown, leather bag. I was probably going to miss my bus again and I knew I was forgetting something. I ran through the list of things that I always needed to carry and couldn’t think of a single missing thing, but the feeling remained. I decided to leave. As I was walking out I caught sight of her legs. They had poked out of the blanket. I had left them there in that position as I had extricated myself from their possessive comfort about an hour ago, those tiny legs that stayed flung across my belly all night long. I smiled at her nightly request, “Mommy, can you please come to bed now so I can throw my legs around you?” And that’s where they stayed through every turn and changing of sides. For the rest of the day all I would have of her would be the memory of those cute, yet graceful legs that were peeking out from under the blanket this morning.

Another one of those days that would see us separated by 54 long miles. I would have no way of knowing how her day was going. Miss Maguire would stuff her backpack full of notes that I wouldn’t find or read until it was too late. She always draws smiley faces next to a polite request that we open up our child’s backpack for important messages from the teacher. I remember to do it three out of the five days of the week. It still hasn’t become a habit. I can foresee a time when the notes would end with frownies instead of smileys. Meanwhile the neighborhood kids are registered in gymnastics, ballet, tennis or karate classes. Their moms are dutifully transporting them from one event or another to the next thing in their busy little schedules. My daughter is surrounded by little ballerinas, black belts or gymnasts while I field stern gazes and sanctimonious lectures from the neighborhood delinquent mom patrol. I have women telling me how important it is for me to be with my child, another who wants me to do something to ease my husband’s levels of stress, apparently it’s his stress that’s making such a smoker out of him. He needs his cigarettes you see, a need of which I am unaware.

The sanctimony of gossipy neighbors aside, I was open enough to the suggestion that my family is probably not getting as much attention from me as they should be. There are signs of frayed nerves everywhere, signs that we all need our lives to take a different course. The realization that baby steps in the right direction would help me get there allowed me to spend Halloween at home. It would have been too much to ask hubby to be in charge of the costuming and make-up of Princess Aurora’s trick-or-treating day as I lived it up as a cubicle fixture at work. It was probably the best decision I had ever made. Trick-or-treat was a delight, a pure treat for me.

I had been hearing about Princess Aurora for months now. The figurine at the end of her pink umbrella was Princess Aurora I was told. I asked who Princess Aurora was and never got an answer that went beyond, “She is a princess!” No one I knew had heard of this princess, yet this is who she wanted to be for Halloween. Someone then asked if it could be Princess Sleeping Beauty and sure enough a Google search confirmed it! So now we knew! I woke up early and made sure my Princess Aurora looked pretty in pink, not a hair out of place and the tiara perched atop. Sleeping Beauty was awake, excited and radiant. This was the first time in five years that I actually took the time to enjoy Halloween with her. It isn’t an Indian celebration and it has never been a day for which I cared. I didn’t bother to dress her up as a pumpkin or a honeybee the first two years. In her third year I adapted a black sweater of mine to serve as a witch’s outfit for her, no one knew what she was supposed to be, poor thing! Last year I wasn’t around but her Grandma made sure she went out to collect her treats dressed as Cinderella, I only saw pictures. So this year was my first mother-daughter Halloween experience. It also was the first time that I waited with her at the bus stop, saw her climb up the stairs, find herself a seat in the yellow bus and wave to me for a long time as she shouted, “Bye Mommy!” while the bus pulled away. Yes there was a pressure behind my eyelids and tears were straining to spill.

I counted the hours on Halloween, staring at the clock, waiting for sunset so I could take her a-begging for treats and showing the Princess off to the neighbors. I picked her up from school, touched up her make-up and off we were! There were oohs and ahs all around as people told her how pretty she looked and dropped candy in her bag. She was beaming and I was beaming right back at her. It was a sweet day indeed.

Now it’s two days later, I couldn’t sleep past 4 AM. I am typing away, her legs are still draped around me. I stared at her for an hour before picking up the computer, observing the rapid eye movement stage of her sleep. Her eyes are moving, they are half open, I am wondering where she is in her land of dragons, unicorns, princesses and fairies, for there is a mysterious wisp of a smile on her face. And then her hand reaches out and curls around my neck.

It is still dark outside but the clock says it’s five, the time to pull myself away from the tiny limbs draped around me, leaving tiny feet peeking out from under the blanket. But I know baby steps will get me there.

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