They Were Babies


Sometimes I can close my eyes, quiet my surroundings, and feel the shapes of my daughters’ infant heads in my hands, one under each palm.

Narrow and thick with hair and heat, my firstborn daughter’s head needs my steadying touch, needs more of me and more of what’s mine. With more of me around her, touching her, with my voice and my smell, she calms, nestles, sleeps. Her head is the other side of the magnet; we fit and pull each other in. I know this head; I have held it and will hold it, run to hold it again, lifetimes over and over.

Resting beneath my other hand is the perfectly spherical head of my second daughter. Its roundness tidily fits in my hand like it was built in that space, like it grew outside me in a pot shaped like my palm. It is tiny and utterly symmetrical. Its temperature is like the air around it. The baby under that domed scalp does not react to my touch. I am there, but I am only someone, any someone, and I know nothing about her more than anyone else. She is still and new. She is trying me on, surprised to see that I fit.

In my inner eye, these babies turn their heads to look up at me. One is desperate for me, and one is complacent. They trade these emotions back and forth so quickly so many times that I can’t tell which one is who until, suddenly, I open my eyes and there they are: sprawled in a loose pile of long limbs on the couch, watching a movie and using minds they sprouted while I was doing dishes and driving them to theatre rehearsals, when I wasn’t even looking.

My firstborn twists a ringlet of her mounded hair around her finger, and I see the toddler she was do the same thing, wrapping a curl around a finger and pressing her thumb into her mouth. Back then, this was second-choice; best of all would have been my hair around her finger, her head on my shoulder, thumb in her mouth, asleep against me so tightly we’d both sport sweaty shirts when her sleep was done. Now she stands back-to-back with me and overtakes my height. Her heat is now too much for her to accept company, and I am relegated to the foot of the bed, to bedtime talking – raucous good fun, with tickling and secrets, but eye-to-eye. Her hands seldom stray to my hair.

Her sister, thin and small, pulls the blanket to her neck, snuggles in deeper still. She’s looking to generate her own warmth and trap it there, beneath the fibers, with one hand left out to share. The lesson of how to hold on without holding tight, how to connect without smother, is one she’s still trying to teach. In sickness as a toddler, she sat on my lap and cried, “mama!”, and when I held her closer, she squirmed further away. Now I lay nose-to-nose with her in her bed, hear her small and big worries, and then, at her bidding, I go away and let her sleep.

All of the knowing there at the crown chakra, the top of my head and theirs, is beyond intellectual. All that knowing holds itself pulsing at the spot where the universe begins and we end, and though I have placed hands, lips, chest and belly at the level of my daughters’ crowns, I have never connected to mine. Energy feels trapped beneath the top of my head, threatening to build to an explosion, something I feel in any work I do to align my spirit. It is as though I trapped it there to leave it as a reserve for them, and now there they are, their own crowns pulling the chi of the universe into their souls with their own power.

It’s mine, now, my crown. My heart reaches up for it, tips the edge, and pulls.

Time to let them grow.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, with the prompt “Love…” hosted by Kristi of

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2 thoughts on “They Were Babies

  1. Stunningly beautiful. My son has done this twisty thing with his hair (not ringlets, but the image is similar) since he was tiny. He doesn’t do it as much anymore, but when he does, I feel tiny him on my lap. Also, this line “using minds they sprouted while I was doing dishes and driving them to theatre rehearsals, when I wasn’t even looking…” THAT. So much that.

  2. You write with such beautiful intimacy. I can feel the heavy love between you and your daughters. The imagery of this piece (like ‘nose to nose’) is very moving.

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