It's been a nice quiet week in Johannesburg.
Caroline and I have spent our days catching up with friends and enjoying hang out time together.
Our list of firsts grows longer and longer as we walk through the early days of our relationship as mother and daughter.
First read through of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
First trip to the zoo where we saw pygmy hippopotamuses.
First viewing of Spielberg's classics E.T. and The Goonies.
First Berenstain Bears book.
First disagreement over clothing choices.
First trip to the salon - no more dreadlocks.
First time writing her new name.
First time on a slip-and-slide.
First crush on an older boy - the son of the friend we're staying with.
But there's old things too which our familiar and part of our shared history together.
Visiting the bookstore to read and look for new books.
Pouting and cheering up.
Coloring and drawing.
Laughing and sharing silly stories.
Singing silly songs and not so silly songs.
Chatting on long car rides.
Going to McDonald's for an ice cream cone.
Watching her make new friends on the jungle gym.
Going to the park.
Hugs and kisses and I love yous.
In some moments, it feels like we've been family forever. In others, everything feels brand new. In some moments, I feel like an old mom who's been around the block and knows her child inside and out. In others, I feel like a new mom who can't comprehend this strange creature before her. In some moments, it's easy and natural. In other moments, it's hard and daunting.
But I think this is the way it is supposed to be.
And I'm grateful for the way it is supposed to be. I'm grateful for the way we are and the way we are becoming. I'm grateful for the moms and dads who invited me into their lives and taught me to be a parent. I'm grateful for what I learned from my own parents. I'm grateful for a big heart who easily forgives when mom doesn't get it quite right. I'm grateful for this little girl who seems to love me in spite of my flaws and is learning to trust that I love her in spite of hers. I am a grateful to a Father who writes the story of family.
I am grateful.