I saw my daughter in my face. I saw that smile that curled up and the twinkle in her eyes. Those same gappy front teeth.
She is me.
I am her.
I dreamt of her years before she was here. I thought of her with dark hair and ivory skin, yet, blond wisps are the reality. Darling, soft, blond, messy hair.
Hair that reminds me of my own Mother. Those same blond wisps my Mother hated for me to touch. “I don’t like my hair played with,” she’d announce. And just like my mother, my daughter throws up her hand, pushing me away when I brush those extra long pieces out of her eyes.
I on the other hand would allow anyone to touch and caress my hair.
I see my daughter. I see my mother. I see me.
The sing songy nature of her play.
The language all her own. One only a mother can understand.
I had the same language. My mother smiles and tells me, “you told us stories just in that way.”
This daughter of mine who loves Mama’s milk, who curls up to me at night but can be furiously independent during the day. I was that to my own mother once upon a time. I was hers and she was mine. And now I’m grown. And my mother and I, we’re kinfolk. Both of us, Mothers, along different parts of this journey. Mothers watching their daughters grow into Mothers, watching their daughters grow… a journey unlike any other.
-playing along with WriteAlm’s November Prompts.
You’ve been sick these past few days. A little head cold. Nose is stuffy and eyes are red. It’s hard for you to nurse and it breaks my heart each time you pull away unable to suck and breath at the same time. You’ve been rightfully extra fussy these days and the only thing keeping Mama sane and you happy is taking walks. You prefer walking pressed up to me in the carrier. This way you can see the world from a safe distance and nurse when you feel the need. I love wearing you in the carrier but today, after hours of walking and no napping, Mama’s back is tired. But… I keep walking and I keep wearing you. We walk down the residential streets looking at the houses, making up stories of the people who call them home. We take deep breaths together, I can hear you sigh, your chest rising and your stuffy little nose crackling and wheezing every so slightly. We watch the trees that line the streets. Their branches sway back and forth. It’s a bit of a breezy day and I tuck your little arms closer into the carrier, you snuggle into my body a little closer. I kiss you on the forehead and you toss your head back a little and smile at me. “Dadadadada” you say to me or to no one or to this world you are just learning about. Your word of the day. You even mouth the dadada’s while you ride on my chest, practicing the way your tongue hits the roof of your mouth and gently pops out with each “ae” sound. You sneeze as we round the corner. “Bless you”, I say. You look up at me and watch my mouth move. You like watching me talk from inside the carrier. You can see how my tongue plays with my teeth as it finishes a sentence. We walk by some fragrant jasmine and I breathe it in and point it out to you. I like naming the flowers as we walk by them, “agapanthas, lantana, indian hawthorne.” My mother did the same when I was young and it stuck with me all these years. We keep walking. Your eyes are heavy but you don’t fall asleep. You nuzzle in for some milk and as I walk I let you eat. You peek your eyes up. You never want to miss anything. It’s too difficult to nurse and breathe. You break the latch and go back to making “dadada” sounds, watching the cars drive past us as we walk. It’s always quiet in our neighborhood. Quiet enough to hear each bird chirping. Sometimes I point them out to you on the telephone lines. Last week we saw a hawk. Your eyes got wide. Today we hear doves cooing. It’s a nice, quiet sound. We keep walking. Often I sing to you on our walks. Sometimes you listen and sometimes when you are very sleepy you start to sing with me. Oooos and Aaaaahhs. Your sleepy song. Today your body is fighting a bug and your eyes tell me you like the sound of my voice, singing you quiet lullabies, but you won’t join in today. We keep walking. We walk by the school. Children are out on the yard, playing their games. I ask you what kinds of things will you be into when you’re their age? I wonder what kind of mother I’ll be when you’re in school? I get anxious and excited just thinking about you being school-age. You feel heavier in the carrier. We keep walking. You want to nurse again. You nuzzle your head down near my breast never needing to say anything. I let you eat again and this time your head slowly releases closer to my body. Your hand grabs hold of my sweater and you’re so close to me I can almost feel your little heart beat against mine. I pull your sun hat up just a bit and as we walk I notice you have finally given in and fallen asleep. I kiss you on the forehead and I’m grateful I decided to keep walking.
* linking up a little late with Heather and Just Write.
I read to her every night now. I’m so excited we’ve added that into the night-time routine. An avid reader myself and a lover of children’s literature, I delight in the quiet evenings in the rocking chair, a baby hugged close to my chest, a board book in one hand. Her wide eyes take notice of the pages, the way I turn them. She touches each page and I allow her fingers to linger on the pages, feel the smooth paper, get to know the book in the only way she knows how. I read about the old lady saying ‘hush’, the bears in their chairs, the mittens and those rascal kittens. I’ve read this book a hundred times before to children of all ages. In story times and one on one but always with other people’s children. Now here I am with my own child. I’m at the very beginning with her. I get one chance to impress her with these things called books. I want her to fall in love with them, to know the stories. I want her to love them so much that I fantasize finding her years from now, in her bedroom late at night under the covers, flashlight in hand, finishing a classic like Burnett’s Secret Garden or Rawl’s Where The Red Fern Grows. Maybe she will enjoy the wonderful Edward Eager Half Magic series or go for something vintage like Nancy Drew. I can’t wait to read chapter books aloud to her; Alice In Wonderland, Caddie Woodlawn, The Little Prince, even Harry Potter. And then she’ll push me away and want to read her own books. Reading aloud will be for the babies and she’ll want to retreat to her room and finish the latest book in what ever series will be popular at the time. Books I may know nothing about. She will grow some more and with that growth her reading will wax and wane. She will go through periods where she reads only school books and there will be times when she wants to devour book after book after book of her own choosing. She will grow some more and she will form a love for certain subjects, a certain type of book. She may like science fiction, romance, thrillers, maybe a little bit of everything? She will connect with books, with the characters and the stories and start discussing this with friends. She may even share with me. She may want to read the same book I’m reading and discuss it with me. Share in the magic that so many stories bring. Steinbeck, Austen, Lamott, Moore. Authors that she will turn to again and again for words of wisdom, stories to inspire and escape into. She will get older and seek out book stores for those books that make her nostalgic for her childhood and reread them. Or maybe she won’t and save the rereading for when she has a daughter to read to. I so hope the magic of books captures her. I want so much to instill this love for the written word.
I sit in this chair and finish my story… ‘Goodnight noises everywhere.’ I close the book. “The End”. She looks up at me and smiles. I put down the book and get her into bed and smile when I think, I am just at the beginning with books and I am so excited this journey with her has finally begun.
* joining Heather for Just Write.
** Yes, I know – this is technically a picture of my mom reading to Ellie, but no one has taken my picture reading to her yet. It’s happening though. Every night we read bedtime stories. Oh what a lovely thing.