I’m holding my two-month-old daughter tightly and looking into her big curious eyes. I love watching her eyes dance around and then stop to stare at my facial features. We’re getting to know each other and its precious.
I wonder what our relationship will be like as the years go by. I wonder what personality she will have and what talents she will develop. Even as a baby she is watching me closely. She is discovering who “mother” is. It makes me think of my own mother and how I watched and studied her so carefully.
I remember being particularly fascinated with my mother’s hands. To me, they were the smallest and prettiest “lady fingers” I had ever seen. Often when she would talk to me, I would stare at them and then compare them to my own. I wanted my hands to be exactly like hers. Its funny the things kids obsess over.
I remember asking her (I must have been very young) “Why do you have so many blue lines on your hands?” I, of course, was referring to her veins. In my mind they were the neatest things. When I looked at my girlish hands, I didn’t see any blue things and I wanted my hands to look more like hers. My mom seemed surprised by my question and she probably wasn’t too thrilled that I was pointing her veins out. She told me they were from “working so hard”. From that day on, I always checked my hands after completing any hard work. The first time I scrubbed a bathtub, I distinctly remember the satisfaction of seeing a little vein poking out around my wrist. My hands were starting to look like Mom’s. I figured that when I was a mom I would finally have pretty hands like her. To this day, I unconsciously look at my hands after household chores. I’m not looking for veins – I’m identifying myself as a mother.
Now I have a daughter watching me and identifying with me. Whether I’m a good mother or bad mother, I will be her starting point for discovering what it means to be female. Just as I did, she will watch and ask questions. As a young girl she may try to imitate me. She will be asking “How am I like my mother?” When she becomes a teenager she will be defining herself as an individual. She will be asking “How am I different from my mother?” When she begins to date and consider marriage, she will examining my marriage. She will be asking “What does my father admire about my mother?”
Looking ahead, I can see that this will be a humbling road. My daughter will be watching me. It makes me all the more thankful that I can continue to watch my own mother. The desire for identity, validation, friendship….well, it never goes away. I’ll still need a hands on example as I become an example.
I’m holding my daughter and its all starting to sink in. My hands are her Mother’s hands.
Let the adventure begin.