Sometimes it curls around my finger. Smooth and silky, whispering in fleeting pirouettes as I try to grasp it’s honey strands. When she wakes up from a deep sleep, eyes puffy with dreams unfinished and warm, moist hands trying to rub them back into reality, the curly-q dance gives its best performance. She’ll totter unsteadily, peering anxiously over her crib slats and draw her lips into a puckery groan, begging me to free her from unnecessary time served behind bars.
I don’t always run to these moments with my heart and arms wide open. Often I am battling disappointment from the fact that she woke up earlier than I had hoped and my precariously balanced plans come crashing down around me like a barrage of post-nap crab apples. In those moments I can feel the frustration with my life like a hammering Morse code in the back of my head. I can sense the meaninglessness of the minutiae I deal with hour after hour and start to question if the core of my existence was created for this kind of work. Or if I’m feeling slightly less dramatic, I’ll at least begin spinning some sad, whiney tale in my mind in preparation for when Josh arrives home and I can unleash all details of how our brood of conniving children have conspired together to drive me to insanity.
In my more lucid moments, when the mid-afternoon cup of tea has found its rightful resting place and my nerves have paused from their tireless battles against unraveling, I greet her flushed, waking face with a more peaceful, welcoming countenance. I find delight in her slender little arms reaching up towards me with eager expectation, her eyes meeting mine as they do no one else’s, because I’m her mother.
I remember when I first looked into those eyes, all swollen and beat up with a little red birthmark stamped below her right eyebrow and another above the bridge of her nose. She reminded me of a Japanese sumo-wrestler, and that didn’t strike me as a good thing seeing as she was a newborn, Caucasian female. But it didn’t really bother me, though I did wait until the swelling went down to book any photo sessions. She was given to me and I loved taking care of her every need. It didn’t mean I never felt tired, or frustrated, or thankful for a break to get away. But, she is one of the most precious things this created world has to offer- a life, knit and fashioned and given for a time, for a purpose- the range of which we have only begun to see and may never fully realize.
And then, sometimes, her hair curls around my finger. And she looks like her father, with her startling, deep blue eyes that pull you down, down into hidden depths and dark swirly waters. She’s a complicated little bird. And so is he… so, I love her: her sideways glances and glowering, cranky pouts, her panting wide open smiles and sweet, soft, misplaced kisses. I love when she runs full steam ahead to join in her brother’s wrestling match, her legs like wooden trunks pounding stiffly as they propel her into their fun with abandon. I love that she is flung here and there by said brothers and rarely seems inconvenienced by the bumps and knocks she receives. I love her diaper clad bottom, struggling to remain in the confines of her made-for-little-people pants and the way she shamelessly shuffles it around, or burrows it in your lap for momentary respite. I love the sweet curve of her rosebud lips and the sad, downward slope of her contemplative eyebrows. I love that she can wear pink and skirts and jewels in her ears; but will run and climb and play ball with the best of them.
And someday, when her plump, dimpled thighs have faded into baby book history I know I’ll get to learn the kind of stories that make her cry, or the first book that makes her soul grow older, the people she struggles not to impress and the words that will hurt her most. I hope I always get to look into those deep, watery eyes and know all that makes them stir and swirl, to hold her slender hands and learn what makes them clasp in anxious petition or clap and sing for joy. She’s a gift, given for a time and treasured for each hard and beautiful moment.
Today she turns one. My Sadie, and I love her.