I call my daughter of two years and eight months an outcast. My doughy, curly-headed, fiery, funny child...wait, no, she's not really mine, but hers, her own I, her own body swelling with soul. Yes, my body made her body. My blood became her blood. My organs built her organs and the water in me became the water in her. My food, her food. My pulse, her drum. My inhale, her oxygen. Still, she is she, and I am me.
Soon as the word bounces from my belly to my mouth I want to hold her and hide her, cry into her hair and never let her go until she forgives me, her mean mother. Though I can't tell her why I need her forgiveness in the first place for then I'd have to define the label I mark her with.
It feels like a betrayal, broken and sharp with regret. Now I want to label myself with nothing but ugly scratchy tags.
She can be tricky. She's two years old. Just two. little two. The number that follows one. So young, so two. She's a hose on full, spouting sparkles and sparklers, smiles, squeaks, and screams. She's emotional, smart and perfectly boisterous.
We go out for Mexican because that's what we do on Tuesdays and before the chips and the guacamole, before she's peeling apart her quesadilla, she is down on the floor, dancing, waving her arms and smiling at strangers, skipping through the place like a balloon attached by a string to a wave. A little later, at home, she turns a toy cheese grater into a telephone and calls someone named Bobby. We don't know any Bobbies so it must be from a book. Most everything we don't recognize that spills from her mouth is a phrase or name or word from a book. I like that. I like her.
I feel sadness and stress and so I turn on music and we dance. In the middle of the living room rug, she twirls in her own little world, while I dance with my eyes closed, moving every part of me. And then she asks that I pick her up and spin and spin and so we spin and spin and the winter room becomes a blur of yellow ribbons.
We wash up and brush teeth. She sits on the potty and tells a stuffed bear that he too will learn how to use the potty when he gets bigger.
We read picture book stories despite the late hour because I need more happy and I don't like to rush or miss this time. Once the lamp is off and the room is dim, we hold on to one another. I sing and kiss her face until I can't sing anymore because tears are growing and blowing inside my throat and into my mouth like a hard bubble.
I leave before she is sleeping, pressing my lips into her soft cheeks.
My sweet, we are flowers growing from the cracks in the wall, hiding our weirdness or wearing it. Sometimes I say things to be funny. I'm sorry. I'll be better. Labels lack depth and truth. Yes, you are wacky and sweet and sincere. Yes, you're also a little physical around toddlers looking for my affection. But you're intelligent and curious too, hilarious and full of incredible wonder.
You are so many words.Words that roll and crash into other words. Words that combine with other words like the wet ingredients in a recipe. Words that pile like colorful cotton laundry.
This hurts because love hurts and I have so much love for you.
Life isn't always easy for me either. But I'm on your team. I swear I'm always on your team.