Being a daughter's Mother

I just put my sleeping Hummingbird in her cradle (hand crafted by her great grandfather who died when I was three), turned on the bathroom fan and watched her watch me for a moment more before she turned her head to the wall and sighed - her way of bidding the day a goodnight.

So many things about that little bird endear her fast to my heart.

Moments before, I had her soft, warm cheek pressed to mine as she dozed on my shoulder, her fingers opening and closing around a tiny fistful of my hair.

Moments before that, I had her in my arms, gulping down a bottle like there was no tomorrow; a mix of exaggerated gratitude and accusation in her eyes. Thanks for FINALLY feeding me, Mom. I'd been asking very politely for FIVE WHOLE MINUTES.

She watches me while she eats; occupying her 'down time' by considering my face. The way my mouth moves when I whisper to her, the freckles on my nose, my eyes. She looks directly into my eyes. Into me. Through me.

And each and every time, I fall in love.

She pushed the bottle away with her tongue - that's all, thanks - and waited patiently for the pacifier she knew I would provide. She breathed out; heavy and content. She watched my arm move, and when her pacifier appeared at the end of it, she opened her expectant mouth into a pretty little O.

She trusted completely that I knew what she wanted. That I would do as I have done so many times before. That I would bend my arm to do her bidding.

And why not?

She should absolutely be able to expect that. Because I do know - we've settled into that groove. I know what that arch in her back, that fervor in her eye, that wrinkle in her brow, that giggle, that sigh - I know what she is saying. And she knows that I am listening. That I'll be there.

To me, that trust is so sweet. Something I will work hard to build strong. To know my daughter, and to know that she knows I will always be there.

How true it is - that thing I was told when I discovered we were expecting a girl, and what I've said myself sine she's been born:

Having a boy is so different from having a girl.

And yes! It amazed me how different the Bird was from the Fish from day one. Completely different, evident personalities. Whole people inside those tiny snuggly sweet-smelling bodies.

At four months, he wanted to explore with his fingers toes elbows knees, wanted to be in the middle of whatever was going on so that he could see, made sounds with is throat/tongue/teeth just to discover what marvelous things he could accomplish. Oh, he was a delight.

She is more content to watch - but to watch with a knowing. She is less interested in what you're doing/holding - and is more interested in you. She will find your eyes - and when she does - she sees you. And she smiles. And then tries to have a conversation - consisting mostly of growls. Oh, she is a delight.

But it isn't just the children themselves that are so different. It's they way I am mother to them.

With the Monkey Fish, I am tuned in to the way he thinks. I've trained myself to think like he does, and therefore can anticipate the direction his clever (and very boyish!) little mind will take.

With the Hummingbird, I am tuned in to the way she feels. I know when she's bored, excited, or when her little 4 month old feelings have been hurt. I know when she's scared, when she's content. I know when she's befuddled, amused, frustrated. And most of the time, I know why.

So much of what I "know" about my kids is instinct. I love it. I love what they've awakened in me. And I love coming in to their little worlds and allowing them to show me around. Show me the ropes.

Their worlds are really much cooler than mine.

But being a mother to my little hummingbird has awakened in me a keener sense of femininity. A desire to look directly at what it is that I love about being a woman. An inner strength that manifests itself in a more measured gentleness.

A quiet dignity.

I find myself thinking often about how I am measuring up to my potential as a woman - because I am going to be the one teaching this little daughter person what that means.

I want to be sure I know what it means, myself. I want to be sure that what I know is the correct meaning. That what I'm teaching her is how to cultivate an inner strength that doesn't need to be seen or congratulated to be meaningful. A grace that transcends the physical into a kind of beauty that is eternal, and undeniable. A kind of wisdom and generosity that always uplifts and makes others feel better about themselves for being in its presence.

Basically, having a girl makes being a girl mean a great deal more to me.

My little catalyst has set me on an adventuresome path.

And my feet are eager.


MikkSolo said...

You learned the meaning of femininity and womanhood from one of the greatest - your mother. You will do just fine teaching it to your hummingbird!