Thursday, September 10, 2009


For the entire first year of her life, we were attached like a pair of koalas. She snuggled contentedly against my heart, her entire body wrapped in cloth against mine. Her tiny spirit was calmed by the rhythm of my life -- my breathing, the murmur of my heart.

As she grew, she slowly began to emerge from the chrysalis. First, her dimpled face and the impressive crown of thick black hair. Widened blue eyes blinked at the faces that smiled into her world. "Look at those eyes!" they said.

And then she was ready for kangaroo style. The little joey, still wrapped against mama, yet now facing away, facing toward the world. Arms were now free. Other hands touched hers. She reached beyond the chrysalis. "Look at those darling rubber band wrists!" they said.

I'd never thought of it in those terms. But yes, the irresistible rings around the chubby wrists did look something like the impression of a rubber band. I wondered when baby wrists lose their rings. I glanced at Aidan's. His were already gone. I determined to pay attention to my baby, to witness the transition into girlhood.

And then one day, she spread her iridescent wings and emerged completely. She toddled back to the chrysalis every once in a while for a snuggle, but she no longer depended on it. "Look at her walk!" they said. But I checked the chubby wrists, just to make sure.

The wrists were still chubby, but it was time to pack away the chrysalis. I gently folded the cloth that had bound us together and tucked it into a box.

Year three whirled by, my butterfly flitting hither and yon. The chubby wrists were decorated with flowing ribbons and streamers as the little ballerina danced before my eyes. "Look at her twirl!" they said. Yes, she could twirl.

One day, the butterfly said,"When will I be four, Mama?" And the mama said, "Very soon. It's almost time for you to be a big girl so you can help Auntie Krissie with her baby." The pink face beamed at the special responsibility.

And then she turned four. We sang, she blew out the candles. She demurred then glowed, and she hopped on her new bike. "Look at her go!" they said. She zipped around the neighborhood on her bright pink bike with her bright pink helmet and bright pink light-up shoes. Her long braids danced in the wake of childhood bliss.

She was tired. I wrapped my baby in a towel after the bath. She wore her new nightgown. We rested together in bed, and she snuggled contentedly against my heart. Her arm wrapped gently around my neck. My spirit was calmed by the rhythm of her life -- her breathing, the murmur of her heart. And then I saw it. Her wrists. My baby had become a girl.
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