Friday, December 2, 2011

Green Beads

Published in the June/July 2011 issue of MomSense.

A hot afternoon. The house was silent inside, everyone napping. A little voice crept out from the back bedroom. The baby was up, so I tiptoed inside to find her standing in her crib, holding out her arms.

I can always count on Eve to be cuddly after a nap. She nestles down in my lap and rests her head against my chest while I rock her in the Lazy-boy. I delight in these short, peaceful moments. I allow them to linger before my active toddler realizes how much energy she’s been storing up for playtime and struggles out of my hold, bolting for the nearest object to climb onto and fall off of.

But for now we rock. She looks up at me; I can smell her sweet-sour big-girl breath. She’s my baby, my youngest daughter, but I am getting little indicators all the time that she will soon be a child, then a pre-teen, then a teenager, then an adult. The changes are gradual and creeping, but in quiet moments like these they are undeniably clear. I smell them coming in her breath.

She sits up suddenly; our tender moment is struggling out of my grasp. But instead of wiggling to the floor, she begins to tinker with the beads on my necklace.

It’s a multi-strand necklace. Tiny gold chains looping through emerald-colored beads. They are slippery and smooth, shiny and translucent, and when the light catches them as it does now, those stones dancing along my neckline must look like precious drops of dew. Or maybe delicate candy pieces, because my 19-month old handles them with rare gentleness for a child her age. Her chocolate-brown eyes are wide with wonder.

“Pretty,” I whisper, pointing to them. “Pretty necklace.”

Then I point to Eve’s head, her nose, her chest, echoing the same word: “pretty.”

She looks down at herself quizzically, searching for the invisible necklace. She settles for a printed flower on her shirt and caresses it hopefully.

“No, no.” I tell her. “You are pretty. Pretty Evie.”

I don’t have much to offer my child. I am not the most accomplished, nor the most creative, nor the most purposeful of mothers. Little words for a little girl – that is my specialty. But maybe my words, and all the gushing-out love that I hope to convey with them, are enough to guide my daughter gently into a life of peace with others and God and self. Maybe she will remember these little moments as a grown woman and, despite how disappointingly short they seem to me, she will string them together proudly, like emerald beads on a gold chain. Maybe she will savor them, treasure them, twiddle them in her fingers, and cling to them when life seems devoid of warmth, lacking in sacredness.

Maybe she will remember her mother’s breath like I will remember hers.

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