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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The touch

Getting her out took quite a bit of work. Lots of pushing, long hours of panting and waiting and finally a few suctions and a vacuum and here she came...right on time, if right on time was eight days late and 26 hours of traveling. They wanted to rush but I knew she'd get here;on her time. I was so awestruck...so truly speechless at the idea that this little person would now be my responsibility and keeping her alive was at the top of my list...but it's a really long list. I watched her cry as they were putting her through the newborn grind. I didn't know what else to do. Then the nurse said, "You can talk to her". Talk to her? What do you mean talk to her? After a few paralyzing attempts at conversation I reached over to her, laid my hand on her stomach and just said, "Madelyn"...the name reaching my tongue for the first time in a greeting. It sounded foreign to me as I tried it again...Madelyn. Still like cold marbles in my mouth I worked up a third time when she stopped...looked around. Confused and thinking she'd been stuck the wrong way with an IV needle I heard the nurse say, "she hears you, she recognizes your voice". Wide eyed and bewildered that I can already provide this tiny person with only my touch, I made a deal with myself that bringing calm and comfort to her world would be my only mission. So 18 years later, I can't help wondering...how did I do? Last night at Senior Parent night at Maddie's school there was white noise about college application processes, prom, how to walk in your cap and gown but really what I was hearing were my long years of hope and self doubt. 18 years flying through my mind like a mini montage of her life. But it was more than that really...yes, there were the first times, the birthday parties, the bikes and dances and parent-teacher conferences. But there is just more. It's not even her really that grew up so deeply, it's me. It's how much she gave me disguised as my gifts to her. I cut my teeth on her. I evolved with every moment, every milestone you could hear the ice breaking about the mold I had myself in. There was so much growing that it was often hard to tell where she ended and I began. It's how I went from a paranoid, incompetent 20-something to a strong and confident mom of four. It's not what I taught her it's what I learned from her. It's how she smiled when I walked into the room...as if my waking up was all that she needed...I became the one who got up early to let the sun in. I don't remember being that to anyone. She reaches for my hand. She seeks me for truth and for comfort and for protection. She redefined me in ways she can never imagine. She, at only a young toddler, taught me I am worthy of her. And eventually, I came to believe her. When I think about the hours and hours of books I read on how to unhook the clasp of my own mother and become to her what I so desperately wanted, I learned along the way, it can't be taught. Maybe it's just developed...maybe it just grows that way. Maybe you just turn around at a cocktail party and realize you finally got it. I made so many mistakes with her...not trusting myself to let her feel rejection and hurt and exclusion. The pain of her pain was too unbearable to me. Good mothers should never let their children feel anything but happiness, said, every new mother armed with only her baggage. I should have let her develop her Wonder Woman powers and her muscles, her sense - let her get lost and find her way back. I didn't trust her to trust herself. How could I? I didn't know what trust really was. Let her experience risk? And loss? How??? But yet, it happened anyway. Eventually. And as she found her way, I found mine. We met in the middle - each sporting battle scars and flesh wounds but we. were. empowered. She isn't the daughter of my dreams...my dreams were so skewed and warped from years of erratic chaos. But as I look at her now; her strong work ethic, her confidence, her deep and unyielding compassion, her smile...even her trepidation towards unchartered waters I see magic. The real magic. The one that after watching it you wonder how they did that - and you leave feeling something. That's my Maddie. Paving her own road, wandering but not lost...determined but unsure, confident but scared to death. But you know you have experienced her by how you feel. All the mistakes I made are mine. I own them and hope she isn't on Oprah one day sharing about them but if she does, I will take the hits because I'm finally okay with me. But she's almost ready to go and despite the broken glass I feel in my mouth when it comes to her leaving, I trust her. I trust her to fall miserably down and get back up. And I trust her to win with grace. I trust her to walk with honor and look back and wink. I trust her with everything. And as I reach over to her when she leaves home I will bring with that touch the memory of a trembling mother bringing comfort to her baby, and how the baby stopped and looked for her, and how the mother touched her again...and the baby was better knowing she was there. And how they grew up together and healed each other and how it's almost time for the baby to show the world what she is made of. And the mother is happy.

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