The most painful memory I have, is that of my daughter hurting her little toe when she was barely two.
The impact of the recently-tipped-over dresser had stunned her into a wide-eyed stupor. The very existence of such intense pain took snatches of time to register, and when it did, her big eyes melted into thick, potent tears.
There was utter tragedy in how ill-equipped she was to react to something so large and inexplicable, and one that had introduced itself to her so crudely.
Twenty three years later, and their acquaintance lingers, as the odd toenail.
The birthmark on the underside of her left foot, the mole triangle on her upper arm, the three piercings on her left ear, and five on her right. Things I’d memorized in the twenty one years that we shared a room, habit, habitat, daylight, dark night, towels, unspoken secrets, window rails to hang underwear, the ceiling fan.
Till ambition and she left, hand in hand, casting shadows as lingering smells in the untouched little wardrobe below mine.
Children are like birds that venture out, and are odd in returning.
Greeting me at the airport today, was the first realization that she was an individual. And then my daughter. A singular, separate life form, with her own functions and faculties. And I gave her an origin, a tendency to Diabetes, curly hair and crooked teeth. Not much else.
The second realization was that it’s not only children who are meant to grow up.
Much is said between us, even in the unsaid.
The well-concealed tattoo on the small of her back. Cigarettes. The presence of a man who has slung his arm around her slender waist, and loves her, despite her odd toenail, predisposition to Diabetes and her crooked teeth.
I can’t say if things have changed. But perspective has.
She is my window to the world. My means to awareness.
Motherhood is, after all, defined by children.