Sometimes I forget that my daughter is mine.
I realize that this may sound highly unusual ... let me try and explain ...
I don't forget that I gave birth to her (insert wide eye emoji here - dear God, how could I?), and I don't forget all of the many things that we have been through together over the past two years - raising her ... and of course that she carries the most important title. A title that makes my heart burst when I really think about it - my daughter. I forget, or maybe a better way to explain it is ... I hadn't been allowing the thought to fully sink in that it is about more than this. Not only do I know that she carries this title, daughter, but also I have realized how much more this title means. That she carries pieces of me and of Danny in her heart and in her soul day in and day out. The blood that pumps in her veins is also my blood. The gears that twist and turn in her brain are being propelled not only by just her own power, but also by the power of the people - her village - the ones that came before her and the ones that walk with her now.
It's nothing short of incredible to watch her flourish and change every single day. Often we wake up and look at her and say "she looks different today." Taller, wiser, softer? ... sometimes it is hard to really pinpoint. Things change so very, very quickly. And what amazes me the most is watching the little building blocks stack one on top of another creating this little human that conquers the world in a new way each and every day.
It hits me that there are a few factors at play here.
I want to make sure that I never forget just how deep into the earth her roots tunnel.
Like when she does something goofy that makes me laugh. Lately she's been doing this thing where she says "Mama - look at my FACE!" and she will scrunch her nose up and pucker her lips, sticking out her two front teeth, chin in the air... a silly face. In a moment like this I can't help but think of all of the times Danny has made me laugh. Usually doing something completely ridiculous. And how at so many of his family gatherings it never takes long before we all erupt into the kind of laughing that makes your belly hurt. And how the last time I went through a pile of photos of his Dad, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting, I had a difficult time finding one that he wasn't making a silly face in; hamming it up for the camera.
Or lately, the way she has been insisting on picking out her own outfits. I really thought I had a little bit more time on my hands where I could continue to treat her like my own personal living doll. Curating outfits for her each morning. Nope. Think again, Michelle. She is 110% sure of what she will be wearing each day, down to the socks on her feet and the clips in her hair (or should I say the socks NOT on her feet and the clips NOT in her hair - she prefers things this way). I don't try and tell her otherwise, after all, she comes by this honestly. My 90 year old Nani has always been the same - a Queen of the Fashion. She would never have left the house unless her outfit was "just so". I highly doubt anyone could have talked her out of anything when it came to what she was wearing. She did her thing. And always looked fabulous in the process. At this point, Sav hasn't quite mastered the art of putting together an outfit that necessarily "goes" - but I don't doubt that she will get there - and in the meantime - it makes me smile to think about where her fashion roots, or at least her "fashion stubbornness" (sorry, Nan.) stems from.
Her love to draw and the preciseness with which she holds her crayon - never just scribbling aimlessly from paper edge to paper edge. She holds her nose close to the paper and with more control than I can believe - sketching tiny little zig zag patterns and miniature imperfect circles. The obvious culprit for handing this passion down to her would of course be me (for anyone who knows me and my love for art) - but when following her roots even deeper - I recall watching my Grandpa's wrinkled and leathery hand drawing the most amazing horse for me - so many years ago.
Like I said, her roots run deep, and really, so do all of ours. Who we are. Why we are the way we are. So much of it comes from somewhere long, long ago. We just have to remember to find it, channel it, and appreciate what we can.
For the time being.
And then there are the people, the village that surround her in the present moments. I don't doubt for a second how they help shape her.
When she comes home after a day or two spent with free-spirited Aunties, loving Uncles and protective older cousins ... with a more vast vocabulary and an even bigger imagination. From hours spent running through the grass with bare feet, jumping on trampolines, learning new ways to play, to share and to dream. Knowing that she is so loved.
When she begs me to leave the kitchen where I am trying to cook dinner to ... "Mama, come dance!" ... her little hand pulls me into our 'great room', where the speakers play the music the loudest, and where there is the most space to move. I know that she gets this from her Nana. Who from day one sang her every song, and would always drop whatever it was she was doing to grab her granddaughter and ... just ... dance.
When she sits still (for once) and does a puzzle, in a quiet and calculated fashion. Using the detailed side of her brain ... I think of her Grandma. When she brings out her boisterous side and sings at the top of her lungs or dresses up like a princess, but then at the same time carries a hockey stick - I think of her little, but older and amazingly quirky cousin, P and her Uncle Nick, the sports lover. When she runs around the house with the previously mentioned lack of socks, I think of her cousin Trystan.
Day in and day out I am reminded. Of the village. I don't have time to talk about them all. But they have all helped us, swept her up and given us breaks, time to breathe. They have given us advice and love. But most of all they have helped us make her who she is so far, sometimes I think, without even realizing it.
And then, there is us.
Danny and I. Her parents. Back to where I started. We are her closest ties. The way we are connected is complex. We mould and shape her every ... single ... day.
Remembering that she comes from deep inside us is the key to continuing to help her become the person we want her to become. Knowing that in tough times ... when she loses her little temper - and stubbornness takes over - it is important to stop, breathe and remember the same impatience lies somewhere inside each of us. And in happy times ... when she brings us joy - her blood is our blood, her thoughts are our thoughts. My writing can sometimes focus on the tough stuff, and I know how equally important it is to talk about what is wonderful. About each of us, who we are, who we will become, and where we come from.