Saturday, February 23, 2013
The other day, you asked me if you could have another tattoo (you know, those temporary ones you put on with water). I said 'okay' so you scurried about pulling out the washcloth we use and getting the package of tattoos out. You chose the ones you wanted (a cat and Tinkerbell) and then you chose two that you thought I should have (two fairies). I cut them out for you, wet the washcloth and then sat down to help you apply them. As soon as I placed the damp washcloth on your hand, you started singing your ABC's as our little way of counting down the 30 seconds it takes for the tattoo to adhere.
And that was when I had a moment. That sort of movie effect where everything but your little face went blurry and the sound of your little voice singing echoed in my ears and things sort of slowed down. You met my eyes with a small smile as you sang, like we were sharing a little wordless secret. It was such a mundane moment, but for me it held a magic that even now, as I type is bringing me to tears. I can't fully explain it except to say that in those little moments, I feel the fullness of my motherhood. And it's not because I'm fiercely defending or protecting you or because I'm taking the difficult road of setting boundaries and being consistent with discipline or because you made me especially proud or because you told me something sweet. It's because of the look you gave me that reverberated the beauty and depth of a mother-daughter relationship.
There's a sort of sliding scale for ranking moments like that. On the highest point of that scale, of course, was the moment you were lifted up to me and I looked into your squinting eyes for the first time and whispered through tears, "Hi, Lila. Hi, Baby Girl."
But then there are smaller tattoo-sized moments that happen monthly, weekly, daily.
Holding your hand and having you initiate our little secret pattern of three squeezes: squeeze-squeeze-squeeze: I-LOVE-YOU.
Brushing your teeth and hearing you giggle when the bristles tickle your gums.
Teaching you a new skill like writing your name.
Walking alongside you on the sidewalk as you figure out how to balance your scooter.
Opening the curtains dramatically and hearing your equally as dramatic gasp of pleasure when you see the sparkling foot of snow that our Good Lord dumped on us yesterday.
Then there's the less glamorous, holding your hair back while you puke into the trashcan, checking for heat radiating from your feverish little forehead, counting to myself the number of times I silently place you back in your bed for a time out Super-Nanny-Style, microwaving chicken nuggets.
No matter where they are on the scale, these moments are the heartbeats of my motherhood pulse. They punctuate the static and rhythmically remind me who you have made me to be: a mama. You, my firstborn, will always be a great gift to me because it was you who made me a mommy. No one else carries that distinction but your fiery little self. No one else could. If only you could know the coma-inducing rush of emotions that moments like that flood over me. If only you could, you would know how madly, deeply, recklessly I love you.