(Lily does not have to bend over backwards for her mother’s approval or love)
Hello again from the Towers!
How is it that as adults we complicate the simplicity of love? I personally don’t think anyone can define love; we can only list its characteristics. We anticipate joy to be in the presence of one we love. If that is absent, that great killer of love–indifference–is soon to follow.
Laura Girardeau, a fellow Must-invite–oops!–MUSCOVITE!–writes of the unfettered joy of love shared with her elfin daughter, Lily. I know of what she speaks; I just got a skype from one of the loves of my life, my son Morgan, from Berlin. There is a great bumper-sticker: Money isn’t everything but it keeps the kids in touch. Morgan’s purpose in calling me from half-way around the world? Just to tell me he loves me. I think Laura is similarly blessed, and I hope that my Literati who are parents are equally fortunate.
The Last Number
By Laura Girardeau
They say we must give as parents without expecting in return, since children think only of themselves. But that’s only a rumor. My daughter’s first word was “Duboo” (Love you). The night before she was born, she spoke through amniotic oceans, “I want to be borned, Mama.”
At two, she recalled that time, “When I was in your tummy, it was cozy and your heart go boom-boom.” She’d grab my face and blurt, “You’re not Mama, You’re Laura!” acknowledging my humanity separate from my role. Nursing, she’d ask politely, “Two please!” Later she figured out the math for more: “Four, please!”
She asks unabashedly for what she wants, but shows compassion akin to Ghandi. Once, I sighed as I left the room, and she ran to me in Minnie Mouse p.j.’s, further delaying my trip to the bathroom. She embraced my legs, cooing, “You’re being very patient. You’re my good sport.” Giving me back the words I give her every day. Finally, “Mama, you’re my special daughter.” I’m awed as by first snow.
At three, she was conservative with Santa, discerning wants and needs: “I really need a moose!” Prompted to ask for wants, she outlined career prospects, “I want to drive a bulldozer and I want to be an elf.” She woke easy to receive the enormous gift of a day. “It’s a day today!” she’d holler. This is how she prays. I wish I could be as good at it.
At four, she’d invite me into her ladybug tent, the thin walls a barrier between childhood and adulthood. She’d hand me her Etch a Sketch. “Stop what you’re doing and do some important work. Come. Play.” At five, she had love emergencies worthy of a cop visit. Skipping down the sidewalk, she’d scream, “I love you so much I can’t stand it! I love you with JOY! I love you WAY BAD!”
Love is not ineffable: describing it builds bonds. But in terms of numbers, it’s incalculable. At six, she loves me to the last number: “What’s after the last number? Because I love you more than that.” This is the math of life. “I love you a google, a billion percent.” She squints at the limits of language. Finally, she has it: “I love you more than Italy, Saturn, and cheetahs!” We have a contest: who can love the other more. We joke, “I love you more than you! I love you more than love!” The only ones that are impossible. “Heck the what?” she laughs.
So this is for you, Lily. I vow to get down on the rug and play mermaids till we’re old, even if I’m late to work. I love you more than fear. I love you much more than Italy, Saturn and cheetahs. But I’ll take you to Italy, read to you about cheetahs, see Saturn at the planetarium. And I love you as much as, but not more than words. Because with these words, we build that love.
16 thoughts on “Our Love celebration continues: Laura Girardeau and Lily”
This is simply dazzling. A depth of heart traumatic to an adult’s reality, except for this “Mommy”. I was touched by every turn of the year. Wonderful.
Thank you for stinging me again, Stang. Now you can see who I am 🙂
Once you been stanged you never go back!
Beautiful, tender, connected love never loss from the womb between mother and daughter describes this story, but there is far more in quality, imagination and groupings of symbols which allow the reader into the love told. I was very moved by mermaids, Italy, Saturn and cheetahs. In reading, absorbing, being transfixed, I became a little girl playing innocently with her mother. Thank you for this guided, marvelous journey into love.
Thank you for your specific thoughts and playful comments on what you relate to. We didn’t all have these experiences as children (or maybe did, but the pain overpowered the good memories). I’m hoping to make it different for her, as most of us try to do. In doing this, we rewrite our own memories and end up having so much fun playing that we get as much out of it than they do!
I wanted to add that your story verse is my second favorite writing of this contest Laura. Your thoughts on this specific mother-daughter relationship gave me pause to think about my own childhood much as other readers will remember their own. The playfulness in mine seemed to end when I was about three or four with my mother. From that point on such moments were with the girls I played with until my parents discouraged me quite vocally from playing with girls in favor of playing with boys. There is a rare beauty to the closeness of mother-daughter within your story which I hope other women experienced with their mothers. I certainly did not once my parents started discouraging my femininity as a child. I wish you good fortune in this contest and in your writing career.
Parisianne, I’m glad the story sparked such memories and feelings in you. We would love to read these interesting stories of your life you allude to in your responses…Maybe painful experiences can be “rewritten” to the way they should have been, using art and metaphor to heal and take charge! Thank you again.
Delightfully endearing… My daughter & I do the “I love you more than” game as well… I will never grow tired of it! Wonderful story….
Must be human instinct, the I love you more than game. Who knows, maybe all primates do this in their own languages.
Beautiful sharing of your Mommy-Precious Daughter bond. It took me back with my own daughter, Alana Joy. She also said “I love you so much, I can’t even stand it!”…. When Alana was only two she woke me up early one morning to share her dream. …”Mommy, I dreamed I be in a rainbow room of color, talking to a lady in a lonnnnnnng blue dress…and Mommy, She said, “Kindness and Love are the colors of your heart.” “Whose heart?”, I asked. Alana enthusiastically replied, “My heart, Mommy….Kindness and Love are the colors of my heart!” She is eighteen and still remembers that dream. I work everyday with children of all ages. And, out of the mouths of babes…comes such profound splendor…Again, thanks for entering your beautiful memoirs. Your stories carry a sweet healing for the reader.
Kristine, Thanks for adding your personal experiences to your comments. This interactive connection is what writing and reading is all about! Alana’s dream at two almost sounds like an angelic visitation: you never know! I like your phrase, “profound splendor.”
The angel leading the angel. How precious.
“Love is not ineffable; describing it builds bonds.” Yes. Thank you for building bonds, for the reminders about putting down what we are doing and getting back to the important work of play; for bringing light to this otherwise dreary spring day through the gift of your word-wielding and through the child-spirit–both yours and hers and mine and ours.
Your words are true and touching, even in a short response. I like the idea of “the important work of play” and hope that more people in positions of power (leaders, supervisors, etc.) honor these values, as you so thoughtfully have.
I love Laura’s beautiful story about Lily. What incredible writing! Imagine being able to remember what your child said so perfectly and sharing such deep love! Amazing!!