Little Girls Who Make Their Mothers Live

“I watched them, thinking that little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.”  -Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love

I read those words and stopped for a second, wondering if an editor in some glass New York City office building had missed a typo.

“…little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.”

The sentence doesn’t roll off the tongue.  It doesn’t even slide through the mind the way you want words to do when you’re reading a story.  Instead, my brain sputtered and stumbled and retraced the imagery, searching for the writer’s original intent.

“… little girls who make their mothers live…”

Enveloped in a fortress of crisp white sheets and too many white pillows, the kind you can only build in the middle of a hotel bed when you’re sleeping alone, I suddenly felt the warmth of a blond head tucked under my chin.  Her own pointy chin and fiercely sparkling blue eyes pressed amidst mental pictures of Indian temples and Balinese healers.  Her impish grin stood wordless in the middle of my mind, proudly announcing its power.

I never understood the term ‘impish grin’ until I met Emma.

“… little girls who make their mothers live…”

It was exactly what she meant, I realized.

The day I picked myself up off the floor, it was the sheer radiance of that grin that pulled me out of the fog.  She said nothing, and instantly reignited life in me.

Afternoons, for whatever reason, are the hardest for me right now.  I’m usually clawing my way to Emma’s daycare center on little more than fumes and shaky will power.  I’m tired.  I’m scared.  I’m overwhelmed at the prospect at having to provide for two small people for the next few hours.

And then she bursts forth from wherever she’s been hiding and hurls herself at me.

She’s smiling and sweaty and humming with delight.  Nine times out of ten, she’s covered in dirt and at least one other unidentifiable substance, and she throws her filthy arms around my legs and squeals, “MOMMMMEEEEEEEEE!”

And I can’t even remember what it feels like to be tired anymore.

Her voice is perfection.  She is four and a half years old, and I am still mesmerized every single time she strings together a sentence.  She speaks with the most delicious mix of confidence and pure innocence.

She is magic.

Pure, utter, unadulterated magic.

All of this is not to say that I don’t love my son, her older brother, exactly as much as I love her.  He is, in more ways than a not quite ten year old boy should be, a rock.  He is quiet strength and old wisdom and unapologetic perspective and truth.  He is exactly and perfectly everything he is meant to be.

He is soothing salve on an oozing, screaming, throbbing and infected soul.

She is the life force that makes me grow new limbs.

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