This "taking care of things" is also about attention.
Love is nothing but paying passionate, persistent attention to another human being.
This requires enormous mental stamina, I think, as I watch Sophie throw rocks into the water for fifteen minutes. I know that fifteen minutes isn't long, but our internet-age brains have been re-wired for the fast, the fragile, the shallow. We don't allow time to weigh on us long enough to know people. This knowing requires spaces, silences, quiet noticing. I could be on my phone while she picks up the rocks, examines them, and then throws them in, waiting for the splash. But then I would miss interacting with her thousand small social cues. Then she would miss learning how to be human. She looks up at me, rock in hand, a half smile and crinkled eyes. "Wuh?" she says softly, lifting an eyebrow. "Yes," I say, "throw!" She throws it, waits, hears the splash, and nods, "yeah," she says, and catching my eye, smiles mischievously again. She wanders off for more rocks and I watch her careful selection, entranced by her natural intelligence.
After rock-throwing, I let her lead me through the dying grass, to the bushes, to the pine trees, where she picks small branches and smells them. "Good," she nods, handing one to me to smell. She is constantly sharing, constantly trying to preserve our connection. This means she is becoming a person, I think. You must be aware of your distance from another human before wanting to bridge that distance. I am not nostalgic for her growth, just happy. Every day she shows me new sides of herself to love. But I have to be watching, must be paying attention.
We go home and I try to preserve this attention as I cook, as I take things out and put them away, as I prepare my tea.
I write in my notebook: I will not be able to count the hairs on my baby's head until I can lovingly count my tea leaves.