She looks into the face of her newborn baby. She doesn't see the wrinkled skin, the nose somewhat flattened and perhaps the head a little misshapen from the journey into this world. No. She sees the most beautiful baby in the world.
Lost in a special part of her mind that is governed by her heart are the times morning sickness forced her to pay homage to a porcelain god, the protruding stomach, swollen feet, stretch marks and the walk of a duck. They were just hurdles along the path leading to this precious gift she now holds in her arms. Hurdles that would sleep until once again awakened to appear along another path to motherhood.
She will sing lullabies, and in the dark of night listen for the gentle sound of breathing and thank her god when she hears the steady rhythm. She will laugh over a bowl of carrots on top of the head and a little face covered with birthday cake. She will cry over a fevered brow and a skinned knee, being careful that this precious one she loves will be oblivious to her tears.
Her hand will reach out to aid the first step which will one day lead along a path that will end at the school door. She will feel the small hand slip from hers as she relinquishes her care to that of another and as she turns, the tears will come again.
How she waited impatiently for the tiny sound of "ma ma" to come from the lips of this precious spirit placed in her charge...and then it came.
"Mama. I need a drink of water."
"Mama. There's a monster under my bed."
"Mama. I'm hungry."
"Mama. I don't know how I got gum in my hair."
She will participate in car pools, be a room mother, bake cookies, bandage knees and other skinned places, teach fingers do not belong in noses, and to be kind to friends. She will explain that missing teeth do not make a child ugly regardless of the little boy down the street calling you a jack-o-lantern. She will teach A-B-C's and 1-2-3's and "Itsy Bitsy Spider." And when the long day has come to an end, she will kneel beside the bed and teach her child to pray.
She assures her young girl that no, she is not ugly, she is not too tall, too short, or too fat or too thin. Yes. She too had blemishes and yes, they eventually will go away. She explains that clothes, the makeup, the house one lives in, or the car they drive is not as important as they seem right now. That someday, the cheerleaders will also have babies that need diapers changed.
The sound of "ma-ma" rings in her ears.
"Mom. I need a new dress."
"Mom. I need a ride to the mall."
"Mom. Did you get my gym suit washed?
"Mom. I"m hungry. What's for dinner?"
"Mom. I did have my homework done. I don't know what the teacher is talking about."
"Mom. Can I take the car?"
Her heart stops for a moment as she places the keys in the hand that she held and supported through the first steps.
She watches headlights shine through the window and with each set that doesn't pull into the driveway, she prays for the safety of this one she loves. And when the lights finally pull in and the car shuts off, she sighs and smiles and prays a silent "Thank You." She now will sleep.
Lost in the part of her mind, governed by her heart, she will forget the nights without sleep, the roll of tissue floating in the toilet, the bangs cut clear to the scalp, the mud tracked on the carpet, the dented fender and her cashmere sweater loaned to a friend. These are just the hurdles of motherhood, tucked away to sometime reappear as memories that will bring the smiles. And the sound of "ma-ma" rings in her ears again.
"Mama. He loves me."
"Mama. He wants to marry me."
"Mama. I'm going to have a baby."
And the tears come.
She watches her daughter paying homage to a porcelain god. Her stomach is starting to protrude. Her feet are swelling. Is that a walk of a duck?
The time comes. She watches her daughter locked in the pain of motherhood and wishes she could take the burden on for her, but knowing that she can't reaches down and kisses the forehead of this special spirit that she loves so much. Her daughter reaches up and takes her hand and holds on tight realizing how many times she has depended upon those hands. She looks into the eyes of her mother and understands.
And the tears come.