Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Blog of Love (don't bother if you're a cynic)

Without sounding excessively sappy -- having two daughters is a wonderful gift. They could not be more different from each other both physically and in temperament which gives me a full range of appreciation. Bebe, who is my firstborn, is most like me both in her appearance and personality. You might think this would make us more compatible, but the truth is it's painful to meet yourself as a child. I watch in dismay how she laughs at the same things as me, and sometimes gets this familiar self-conscious expression on her face, how she distrusts adults who condescend to her, and the way she mimics rock's all me in junior size.

Sometimes we are truly oil and water, yet I cherish her mirror to my psyche - difficult as it is. Without that I might not come to understand better who I am and how I got this way. I have to separate my discomfort in watching my clone and love her for who she is – both like and unlike me. I can nurture her in gestures that were never expressed to me as a child and hopefully bypass some of the neurosis my own mother passed down to me. But who am I kidding? We all hand down our issues - consciously or not - to our children. So while I might rescue her from fearing the dentist I might not be able to prevent her resistance to change, and so on.

My baby girl, Evie, is most unlike me in all manners. Though her willfulness and passion can often try my patience I also celebrate her differences as though she was not born from my genetic code. When she was an infant I didn't believe I could love her completely. After all, my eldest was still a baby when Evie came into this world. I didn't understand the capacity one's heart has for expanding itself. When she was still tiny, under six months, I watched her half moon eyes crinkle up at me with joy. I realized that not only could I love her with all my heart, but I gave her love untainted by my own self-scrutiny. Now, at nearly five years old, her eyes are exactly the same as that baby that kept me up all night just crying to be in bed beside me. I gave in then and I shall give in as long as she'll have me near.

Now both girls are safely tucked in the same bed. I put them at opposite ends like the grandparents in "Willie Wonka" and sometimes their feet collide. I would never think of having them in separate rooms as they are exceptionally close as siblings and friends. That is my gift to them too…fostering a bond that will be with them always. My girls are resilient and slipped so easily into their new home and my new status as a single mom that I often wait for the other shoe to drop. I'm a much better mother to them on my own terms than I ever was in my glass cage. And that is my strength, in case you were wondering.