08 March 2011

Baby Lessons

Yellow hair, like straw but much more frail, goes in every direction at the nape of her neck. In vain, I run my fingers through it, trying to make straight or curls, something other than chaos. But it doesn't matter. My efforts are futile and she doesn't care anyway.

She doesn't care.

I love how she doesn't care how she looks, doesn't care if I put her in a dress or a t-shirt, because it's all going to get dirty in the same way. And she doesn't notice her hair, doesn't notice it's crazy and runs wild with the wind and holds her food sometimes, when I wonder if she's saving it for later.

I knew another girl once, a girl who cared so much, too much. She tried so hard to make her own frail-straw hair do something other than hang straight and glint in the sun. Fingers and curling irons and enough hairspray to slick back a horse's mane didn't matter. It always ended up straw-straight, limp and shiny. It did whatever it wanted.

I keep saying that I can't wait until she can talk more, can't wait until we have conversations where we talk about ideas and Good and the stories we read. And I can't. But with that kind of knowledge, with knowledge of what she's thinking and how to articulate it, comes knowledge of herself. With the ability to discuss ideas comes comparing those ideas and, eventually, comparing herself.

To save her from that . . . oh, to save her from that. But already she sees what she does not have and strains for it. Now, across the table. Later, through the storefront glass that separates her from whatever she dreams will make her beautiful on that day.

I tell her every night that she is beautiful, and that she's loved no matter what. I hope it will make a difference, that somewhere in her baby-brain she holds that through all the years.  And I wonder how I know that, how I can say it with so much confidence to her. Is it because someone once whispered it to me, through yellow-straw hair that went every which way?

If only we believed the things we tell our children. I catch myself, sometimes, telling her things and realizing that they're true for me, too. I am loved and beautiful and held, chosen, a gift, so precious. But we lose those messages along the way. They get hidden, under layers born of the people we should be and the things we ought to do.

After a certain point, life is the peeling back of those layers. It's getting back to those so-early night whisperings, the ones we went to sleep to before the places our memory can reach. And the womb-whispers, the ones we may never remember as words but that warm us when life gets cold.

I want to live in the memory of those places, to fill myself with true words and not with things that seem easier to reach. But it's a journey, a slow uncovering, like getting out of bed on a cold, cold morning. Every day is a step, some forward, some back, but all going somewhere. And one day I'll wake up, warmed from the true center and not because I've successfully huddled under the blankets.


Laura said...

I have missed you!

I love the way you love your sweet little one. I am glad you are learning to love yourself better through that loving. This has been the big eye-opener for me--feeling the parent-love. To think, He loves me even more. So amazing.

christianne said...

Oh my goodness, Sarah. This is pure beauty. It makes me ache, the way you speak here. It is good to glimpse your heart.

Sharon Wang said...

Oh, how I desire to protect my little one from comparing herself and from mean kids and, well, everything! I have heard mother's realize just how critically they talk to themselves, when they see their little ones immitating them. It's amazing, we think we have so much to teach our kids, but they teach us too!

Julie Buckhorn said...

love this

terri said...

Your little girl is lucky to have a mama like you to tell her what is really true. I'm glad you're hearing those words for yourself too. Love you...

emily wierenga said...

oh friend, i've missed you, and i know this... this wondering over a child who doesn't care about anything except the people in his/her world. i want this carelessness too. this others-focus. love you.