I see her in the shadowy half-light of my daughter’s nursery. My mother. I’m nursing my baby (who at almost one and starting to toddle around is hardly even a baby anymore). I squint, my eyes watering just a bit. I’m realizing how close we are now to the end of the baby years. Not just of this baby, but of all the babies.
For 6 1/2 years now we’ve been firmly in the baby years – either actively caring for one, being pregnant with one, knowing the next one was just up on the horizon.
But something changes when you know it’s your last baby.
As I was nursing her before her nap, I took my time really watching her. That small sigh that babies make when they’re just about to drift off. How she raises her eyebrows, just a bit, in relaxation. The way her small hand grabs at mine, and then at my shirt, and then up to her face. It seems to be acting on its own, that little hand. My baby is content.
It strikes me how much she looks like my younger sister as a baby. I squint a little more, and now it’s not just my sister, it’s also my mother. It’s three generations, at least, laid out before me. And it’s not just my mother as she was in her childhood – it’s the adult version of her that I see, too. It’s unmistakable.
Oh, how I wish she had lived to see this baby.
Every baby girl is born with all of the eggs that she will ever have inside of her. I think about this sometimes – when my mother was pregnant with me, somewhere inside of me the beginnings of my daughter already existed. Like Russian dolls, one nested inside the other, on down the line. My mother carried not only me, but her grandchildren as well.
It’s miraculous. My mom did live to see this baby in a way.
It’s no wonder I can see my mother here now, in the half-light. She has always been here. And so has my little girl.
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