Because I struggle to sometimes connect with my daughter, I write her letters that I send to an email account I set up for her. I will give her the password some day when she is older…
Today I watched you at dance class in complete maternal awe. I sat hunched over on an uncomfortable stool in the back of the room with all the other mothers. Just a chorus line of us: exhausted, working mothers awkwardly perched like vultures on gnarled driftwood, necks craned and hooked over the radioactively glowing screens of the cellphones in our hands. I had my phone out, too…but I was transfixed by you. My vision telescoped in tightly on you; your long gazelle legs in their baby pink tights, your lithe body, and your earnest little face, with your crooked little teeth. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in my life. You kept tugging nervously at your leotard and looking to make sure I was watching you. Of course, I was. How could I not?
You were supposed to be learning to jump & click your heels together. Typical Singin’ in the Rain tap dancing shlock. You flailed. The teacher manually moved your legs to show you what she wanted, like some kind of awkward puppeteer…Still, you struggled. She tried again and again with you before giving up and moving onto the next students. I watched as you kept practicing anyway. It was a thousand paper-cuts to watch you try again and again and never taste even a hint of success. Sometimes you fell. But you picked yourself back up and tried over and over again. I was never more proud of you in my life.
After class, you held my hand as we walked to the car. You announced, “Mom, I had trouble…but I kept trying.” “I know. That’s the secret to taking over the world, buddy.” “Really?” “Yeah. Keep that in your heart, ok? With the other good stuff.” “Ok, mom,” you said. Someday, when I’m gone, will you remember this moment as significant? I hope so.
It’s hard because a lot of times you fight me lately. I know this is because we are mirror images of each other…This means we share the same smile—while we’re in complete opposition. My right is your left, your left is my right….so we can never shake hands, never unify peacefully. Besides looks–you walk, talk and act like your hell-raising mama. Everyone tells me how you are my miniature, my twin, you precious doppleganger. But, sometimes it feels a little bit like raising myself all over again-a job I barely clawed my way through the first time around.
Usually, I feel immensely sorry for you, for your march in my footsteps, for what curses I have brought down upon your head like a crown of thorns simply by the genetics I’ve passed on that make you so like me. But I realized something today, after watching your mountain goat efforts. You were hard-headedly jumping off cliffs you couldn’t clear in devil-may-care form–just because you still don’t know how to do anything but try….And, Bridget, I admired you so much for it. I realized if we are truly mental twins, we are twins in everything—not just my brokenness. The pluckiness in you was a pattern knit in my womb. That means it’s in me, too, B. It’s in me too…and I had forgotten.
Thank you for using your spark to relight my flame. You beautiful candle, you exquisite flare. And when you finally reach that other cliff someday, don’t forget your mom prophesied your future toughness—while you helped her recall hers.