My daughter’s hair smells like honey, because that’s how little girls are born. Sugar and spice and all things nice is not an exaggeration or a poem, it’s based on scientific fact. But I didn’t always like girls; I had been a mom of a boy for 8 years before the XX made me puke for 9 months. Without a sonogram I knew she was a girl; I kept saying “no boy would treat his mother this way.”
I had become very comfortable building legos and dressing my son in the standard boy uniform of sweats, khakis or jeans with one set of sneakers which match everything. My son was practical and logical and not very emotional.
What would I do with a girl? I didn’t do pink; I did black. My accessories were one ring and a watch and two silver necklaces I layered together to avoid. I didn’t do dress up or Barbies or Princesses! I didn’t sing and twirl as if I was the model for the ballerina who lives inside a jewelry box. It’s not that I wasn’t feminine, I just wasn’t girly.
My daughter was born a quintessential little girl and instantly put me into a club I can never understand until I became the mom of a daughter. A daughter is your more perfect reflection in the pond of your life; she is a piece of yourself you can’t hate.
I studied my newborn’s wrinkly body. Her chicken legs, which hoped would evolve into her father’s lean gams were attached to a long torso and I was excited she seemed to garner the best of her parents body parts. Beyond her limbs, those eyes. Her deep, round, brown eyes stared right through me and tore me into a dichotomy. Part of me felt I had known her all my life; she looked like so many family members in one. Especially those eyes. It’s like I’ve been looking at them my whole life. But another part of me, studied this familiar baby and wondered, “who is she?”
I walked into her crib one morning when she was four months old, and smiling broadly, I said my usual “Hi.” She looked back at me, and said, “hi” right back. At first I thought it was a fluke. I did it again. “Hi,” I cooed in a pitch reserved for babies and kittens. “Hi,” she said back. Within a month she also saying, “hello.” We were very popular on walks. “Hi, hello. Hi, hello.”
She was pure magic and while all mothers may allude to this, my daughter is genuinely half clown-magician, so declaring her magic seems obvious. What my daughter gave me, other than an appreciation for pink and glitter, was the unexpected gift of loving myself. Having a daughter helped me re-evaluate my views on my body. When we developed her first baby pictures, we printed some in black and white, and they had a striking resemblance to my own newborn pictures. I was taken aback in such a powerful way; the reason those eyes seemed so familiar were because they were mine. But I was such an ugly baby, how could this be? She is so pretty, how can the pictures look so alike?
She’s five years old now and I still stare at her often; in the rear view mirror at a red light or as we sing her Beatles’ good night song. Her eyes, the porcelain skin, those red lips which form a perfect bow smile. How did such a gorgeous creature come from me? My daughter has taught me the most fashionable accessory is your smile, and the most enviable one, your kindness.
Sometimes my daughter will look at me, tilt her head with a small smile, hug me, and tell me she loves me. She says it not out of habit or obligation, but because it’s bubbling up inside of her. She often starts laughing and says, “I can’t stop smiling,” and then tries to stop herself. I don’t tell her what my mother told me, “if you laugh too hard, you will cry” because I don’t want to limit her laughter. My daughter does things like whisper secrets and giggle and then tell the secret out loud because she doesn’t really want to keep secrets.
My daughter thinks everything is beautiful. The necklace around the cashier’s neck, which I recognize as a $2 street find, my daughter will compliment as if it is a Cartier. The stained cat shirt you save for laundry day, my daughter will tell you is the most fabulous shirt she’s ever seen. And if you have a new haircut, she would notice long before I would, and tell you how glamorous you look.
My daughter is the one I would’ve hated in grade school. She is the chipper one who walks around waving, “Hi Julian, Hi Emma, Hi Madison…” to every single kid in class in the morning, and “Bye Julian, Bye Emma, Bye Madison…” as we leave for the day. She walks with a skip in her step; she doesn’t know any other way to walk. I’m convinced there are little springs of buoyancy underneath her feet, as if she is stepping on little cloud trampolines.
My daughter is nothing like me. She is a girl version of my husband, with my eyes. She was born a performer, a dreamer, and happiness is her default setting. Things like “best day ever” spew out of her mouth regularly and not because it’s a hip thing to say, but because she genuinely understands any day we’re alive and skipping along the streets, surrounded by the love of our parents is the best day ever. It is as good as it gets —and it’s awesome!