Saturday, August 17, 2013

When a Mother Glimpses Her Own Reflection

My daughter and I stand together side by side, partners together at a little girl's tea party.  This day, she has chosen to wear her hair pulled not on top of her head like normal but to the back, with the bow behind. It seemed like such a small request, an almost unmentionable change in her appearance, but with a few strokes of the brush, she ages ten years right before me.

In profile, I suddenly see my nose, my chin only in a more diminutive form. 

Lately, I've been noticing Amelia becoming me, her mother.  Even her mannerisms are familiar--the pressed together lips, the hands tucked behind her back when she stands, the resistance to all things new, especially those skills not easily mastered.  Then, there is her shy, reserved smile that melts when she talks non-stop to even strangers as well as her natural mothering skills that she tries to use on her brothers--she mimics me, my arms' movements like hers, much like a reflection in a mirror.

With all those similarities, it's her eyes that stop me every time.

Those deep brown chocolate pools draw me in.  I can't look at her without feeling those eyes are so deep and so unusually large compared to the rest of her petite face.
Ever since we were a young couple in the first blush of giddy love, my husband has waxed poetic about that particular feature of mine.  I've always smiled and blown off his comments as the result of love's blessed, merciful blindness.  Who would prefer brown eyes over the clear blue of the ocean?  Yet, as my eyes meet hers, it makes me wonder if this is what he feels each time he looks at me.

In another photo of Amelia, all traces of me seem to vanish.   Maybe it's the tilt of her head, the sideways eyes, or the shy smile.  Or maybe it's the hat.  I'm not sure.  Still, the photo reminds me of Kate Middleton, England's princess.  It's fitting, one little princess looking like another.
This must be what it feels like to look at oneself in the mirror.  The only thing that separates Amelia and me is about thirty years.  As she grows, though, it is inevitable that she'll think I'm old, unable to understand who she is, even though that will be like saying I can't relate to my arm or my leg.

I cringed just the other day at a college sophomore calling me 'ma'am.'  She laughed and looked at me like I was crazy when I told her I don't feel like a ma'am.  I don't feel thirty six.  Not mentally, anyway.  Without the aches and responsibility, I feel much the same as I did when I was in my early twenties .  No part of me understands how this is what it feels like to be nearing forty.

How is it possible that next year is my twentieth high school reunion? It seems both like yesterday and like forever since high school graduation.

Some days, it feels like I'm still playing house as in the early days of being married; it's only that playing house has grown more tiring with more responsibilities, more to pick up off the floor, more piles of laundry to wash, more dust there is never time to wipe away.  Some days, it feels like I'm only playing at being a mother since I still don't know what I'm doing most of the time.  I look at my children and think how it's impossible for  them to be so tall.

She is me.  I am her.  I am my mother.  My mother is me.

There will come a day when she will realize this, that she has become me just as I have become my mother.  Then, she'll understand that the body ages but the mind is forever young.

It is in moments like these that I catch a glimpse of eternity, a realization of how time, itself, is God's creation, not who we are in our souls.  The body will grow old and turn to dust.  But whether I am forty or sixty, I will not feel that old in my mind, heart, and soul.  They were fashioned for eternity.

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