Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Little Women

This morning, with Claire climbing on me and Mia in the bed next to me, I thought about how we do this every morning.

(a few weeks ago, in the morning)

Claire snuggled in and I pulled her body in close to mine to get warm (she had shed her footie pajamas), and she began to nurse.
I had a daughter on my left and a daughter on my right.

I thought about all the mornings that Mia and I had this same ritual, when it was just the two of us.
I remember thinking, then, that those moments were going to slip away.
That Mia would outgrow lying in my bed in the morning.
I wondered if she'd feel replaced by her sister.

I didn't know, then, that both of my girls would inhabit my bed. 
Every morning.
They lay there in the quiet.
They snuggle in.
They know what it means to just "be there."
They instinctively know how to do this.

I came upstairs thinking about time at the cabin when I was a little girl, remembering one specific trip.
It was before I had learned to play pinochle and so, at night time, when my older sisters and parents were playing cards, Christa and I amused ourselves by playing some game together, or I read.
This particular memory goes something like this.
There's a strong fire burning in the fireplace behind me, and the blower is keeping that small room tight and warm.
The old fashioned lamps hanging over the couches are on.
I can see dad, cross-stitching or reading on the couch across from me.
The kettle begins to whistle from the kitchen, signaling hot water, ready for chocolate.
My sisters are sitting at the table.
I can see Sue in a jean shirt and black spandex leggings and her hair pulled up in a bun.
I can hear them bidding and laughing.
Someone gets up and goes to the little mini fridge in the kitchen to get fun size Snickers bars that have been stashed in the freezer.
And me?
I'm lying down, curled up on the couch under a blanket, reading an old, red, well-worn copy of Little Women.
I loved the relationship of the sisters, the story of the girls growing up.
It made me think of my sisters and the bond that we shared, our growing up time together.

It's funny how quickly that growing up happens.
We're grown with children of our own.
They are all around us, spilling out and filling our lives.
It's like that paragraph towards the end of Willa Cather's My Antonia, referencing her children:

"We were standing outside talking, when they all came running up the steps together, big and little, tow heads and gold heads and brown, and flashing little naked legs; a veritable explosion of life out of the dark cave into the sunlight.  It made me dizzy for a moment."

Mmm hmm.
It is kind of dizzying.
It happened so quickly.
(Thanksgiving, last year)

And, what it really makes me feel?
Humbled and quietly grateful, full of praise, for the work of women.
Bearing children.
Raising them.
Tending to needs.

It is a spiritual work that I love deep down into my bones.
It is, more than any other thing, what defines me.
I love it with my whole heart.

And so, when I look at my girls, I think of this quote by President Hinckley that I love.

"When you save a girl, you save generations.  She will grow in strength and righteousness.  She will marry in the house of the Lord.  She will teach her children the ways of truth. ...I see this as the one bright shining hope in a world that is marching toward self-destruction."

When I look at my girls now, I see light.
And hope.

They inspire me.

They are small now, and follow me around.
They want their hair done.
They want lipgloss on and their nails painted.
I find them reading books, running around, playing make believe.
I watch them playing together.
There is something about them that is so darling.

But it's more than that. 
I sense something special within them.
A light, a sensitivity, the stunning sense of who they really are.
I think about the women they will become one day.
I hope they will know their beauty, their strengths, their gifts.

And I hope that they know, then, that the work of women is lovely, beautiful, crowning and needed.
It is a holy work.

I want my girls to know this -- and to rejoice in the magnificent and humbling endowment, given to them by God.

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