Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sing, Momma, Sing

I lay in my bed, ready for rest at the end of another day.  My daughter lies next to me in her striped cotton pajamas.  I look at her and immediately feel warm and whole.  I feel as though I could be stripped of my clothing and robbed of my possessions and yet I would be complete and joyous as long as I were still called mother.

She looks up at me with her beautiful blue eyes, so bright and radiant they are as welcome sunshine breaking through layers of thick, grey clouds.  She smiles the most tender, genuine smile; her upturned lips speak of love with no necessary vocal accompaniment.  All I need do is look at her to know I am adored and admired, and in my return gaze I know she is assured the same.  She knows, without any fancy words needing to traipse off my tongue, that she is safe and secure, and, above all, deeply loved.

She takes her tiny hand and places it in mine; the soft tips of her fingers gently stroke my palm while that wide smile of hers yet remains. It is an irrefutable truth to say I have never known love like this before.  Nothing in this world – not the gentle ocean breeze or a soft, amber sunset – compares with the love between mother and daughter.

Through the silence that now holds us together – two beings forever united though the umbilical cord has been broken – she softly speaks to me.  Her smile grows a little wider before she requests, “Sing, momma, sing.”

I know the song she is now requesting; I know exactly the tune she desires to hear.  Just as the depth of our love need not be vocalized to be acknowledged, I simply know the melody she now seeks. It is a familiar tune I have softly sung to her time and time again. I continue to hold her tiny hand quite appropriately as the lyrics fall from my lips: Your little hand’s wrapped around my finger, and it’s so quiet in the world tonight. This moment – her smile, her touch, her joy, her abundant love – is perfect, and I want to know if I can trap it.  Can I keep this moment forever? Can I somehow bring it to permanence and make it concrete?  I want to seal my daughter’s love in a jar with a heavy lid.  I want to place it on a high kitchen shelf to be brought down when she’s age fifteen and yells that she hates me because she has an earlier curfew than her best friend.

I know, however, that I will never be able to hold these precious moments down – pinning each smile like butterflies in a collection.  If I could, I would label her laughter, her songs, her happiness in this moment like monarchs and mourning cloaks.  As a substitute, I will collect these moments in my heart and hold them there forever, each memory remaining alive.  As I take a snapshot of her smile in my mind, I continue singing the tune I know my daughter yearns to hear: To you, everything’s funny – you got nothing to regret – I’d give all I have, honey, if you could stay like that.

I now come to the chorus and sing louder, feeling every single line and chord to my very core – truly sharing the lyricist’s desire.  Tiny tears form in the corners of my tired, smiling eyes. These tears appear every single time despite the frequency of such words being sung to my delighted daughter, who also seems to hear my heart beating with love as I string each word together in this beautiful and true tune.   

Oh darling, don't you ever grow up
Don't you ever grow up, just stay this little
Oh darling, don't you ever grow up
Don't you ever grow up, it could stay this simple
I won't let nobody hurt you, won't let no one break your heart
And no one will desert you
Just try to never grow up, never grow up

As I tunefully sing my daughter to sleep with such sweet words, I wish I could protect her as the lyrics promise.  However, my heart, which is exceedingly full of love for this beautiful gift of a girl, also aches with another knowing.  I know, despite my deepest desires, that she will grow up, she will be hurt, she will be deserted, and her heart will be broken.  I will never desert her, but I may even regrettably be the one to hurt her. 

For now, though, I wipe those future fears and worries away and hold on to this moment, hold on to my daughter’s hand, and hold on to her tiny body as she gently falls to sleep to this happy, hopeful harmony.  I will sing for you whenever you want, dear daughter, whether you be sweet, simple age two as you now are, or a troubled, angst-filled teen of fifteen.  I will sing for you at age twenty-two and I hope to sing to your daughter too.  I want you to sing for yourself when you are feeling sad and low, and hear my voice through a whisper even if we are miles apart. 

I know you will grow up dear daughter, but I never, ever want us to grow apart. So you now sleep as I dream of all the love you have brought to my life and lock this memory forever in my heart.  Just try to never lose this joy, never lose this joy.   You are loved.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Samantha Macelli was a Bad Influence

I sat at the lunch table mindlessly chewing my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and pulling at the stem of my slightly bruised apple.  I then heard Stephanie saying my name, “What about you, Angie?”

“Huh?” I asked, between bites of my Wonder Bread.

“Have you ever had a hickey?”

I was ten years old.  I had no damn idea what a hickey was, so I took another bite of my sandwich and avoided an immediate answer by slowly savoring the creamy Jif.  I knew they had been talking about what boys they liked, and assumed that a hickey was something cool a boy gave you and something I probably ought to have had by the oh so mature age of ten.  I didn’t want to seem like a little kid or like I wasn’t desired by the opposite sex. 

“Uhm … yeah,” I softly replied.  
“Yeah, so have Stacy and I,” Stephanie stated with a smile that informed me my reply, although a lie, was the appropriate affirmative response.
Shortly after my fib and Stephanie’s boastful statement, the bell rang out for the end of lunch period.  We all got up, returned our trays to the lunch ladies or disposed of our paper lunch bags and headed back to Mr. Smith’s classroom. 

I didn’t feel right the rest of the afternoon as I sat at my desk and completed grammar assignments or attempted to listen attentively to Mr. Smith’s lectures on history.  My stomach turned the rest of the day nervous and anxious as to what I had confessed to.  What’s a hickey? What’s a hickey? I have to know.  Oh, god! What if it’s gross? Stephanie didn’t seem to think it was gross, but oh god!  I need to know what a hickey is … NOW!!  It’s all I could think while I should have been memorizing the names of presidents. 

At that time, there was no World Wide Web, or “information superhighway,” as I first remember it being marketed to us when I was in high school.  Had it been this day and age, I could have just asked Google to give me the answer.  That wasn’t an option, so I remained in the dark.  I was too afraid to ask the other girls, whom all seemed to already know.  I was certainly too embarrassed to ask my mother. 

I had my “a-ha!” moment about several weeks later while watching an episode of Who’s the Boss? where Alyssa Milano’s character Samantha was given a hickey by her beau.  She wore turtlenecks all week trying to hide the lip sucking montrosity that is a hickey from her father. She also made up a new dance craze where you tilt your neck when he saw her sans turtleneck.  “Gross!” I yelled aloud, and could not believe that only a few weeks earlier I had lied and said I was given one of these disgusting things. 

I have never, ever in my life allowed any boyfriend of mine to give me a hickey.  I think they are absolutely revolting, and I was always reminded of my dishonesty whenever a young man started kissing my neck.  I would freeze up in shame and disgust and tell him to stop before he left his mark. This was way before the Twilight madness too, so vampires weren’t considered sexy and I didn’t want anyone nipping at my neck!
My own daughter will be wise to wear a turtle neck in an attempt to hide the mark of her indiscretions should she ever come home with a hickey, especially if she is only age ten.  I was ten years old! I was only in the fifth grade when my friends asked if I had ever had a hickey.  I can only hope that they were all lying too and had asked because Alyssa Milano was the coolest and they must have seen the same Who’s the Boss? episode when it first ran.  I can tell you that I am the boss of this household now and ain’t no ten year old coming home with a hickey.  Gross!