"Mommy, are you watching?"
"Mommy! Watch me!"
"Mommy can you see me? Can you see me play the drums?"
I am on the treadmill which faces the opposite direction of where my 4 year old daughter sits, banging away on a makeshift drum set with a pair of tinkertoy sticks, bliss etched on her face as she makes a noise that is somewhat like music. The rhythm is mostly drowned out by the sound of the treadmill.
She calls to me again so that I have to crane my head around at an awkward angle to see her. I watch her play the drums, per her insistent requests while my neck aches and I feel dizzy from moving forward at a rapid pace yet looking backward. I give up and turn back around to face forward.
"Mommy!" She calls. "You better be watching!"
I turn my head back around praying her drum solo ends soon.
Later I think about what she has said: I better be watching. In whatever she does in life this is true. When she looks up, when she turns around, whenever she needs me... I better be watching. My personal comfort aside, I better be watching. Even though she looks busy, she is still keeping track of whether I am watching. I might think she's forgotten but she doesn't. She never gets too busy or too distracted to be unaware of my eyes on her, my smile, my approval, my applause.
No matter what I do or where my life takes me, I better figure out a way to watch because if she looks up and finds me not there, it will steal her joy, lessen the experience. My job as her mom is to watch as much as possible, from now on. I want to watch her forever, to always be there to tell her "Great job!" Watching, after all, is as much for me as for her. The joy I see etched on her face can't be replaced. If I wasn't watching, I would miss it. I better be watching... and not just for her.