Little Girls Who Make Their Mothers Live

“I watched them, thinking that little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.”  -Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love

I read those words and stopped for a second, wondering if an editor in some glass New York City office building had missed a typo.

“…little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.”

The sentence doesn’t roll off the tongue.  It doesn’t even slide through the mind the way you want words to do when you’re reading a story.  Instead, my brain sputtered and stumbled and retraced the imagery, searching for the writer’s original intent.

“… little girls who make their mothers live…”

Enveloped in a fortress of crisp white sheets and too many white pillows, the kind you can only build in the middle of a hotel bed when you’re sleeping alone, I suddenly felt the warmth of a blond head tucked under my chin.  Her own pointy chin and fiercely sparkling blue eyes pressed amidst mental pictures of Indian temples and Balinese healers.  Her impish grin stood wordless in the middle of my mind, proudly announcing its power.

I never understood the term ‘impish grin’ until I met Emma.

“… little girls who make their mothers live…”

Kissing Emma

It was exactly what she meant, I realized.

The day I picked myself up off the floor, it was the sheer radiance of that grin that pulled me out of the fog.  She said nothing, and instantly reignited life in me.

Afternoons, for whatever reason, are the hardest for me right now.  I’m usually clawing my way to Emma’s daycare center on little more than fumes and shaky will power.  I’m tired.  I’m scared.  I’m overwhelmed at the prospect at having to provide for two small people for the next few hours.

And then she bursts forth from wherever she’s been hiding and hurls herself at me.

She’s smiling and sweaty and humming with delight.  Nine times out of ten, she’s covered in dirt and at least one other unidentifiable substance, and she throws her filthy arms around my legs and squeals, “MOMMMMEEEEEEEEE!”

And I can’t even remember what it feels like to be tired anymore.

Her voice is perfection.  She is four and a half years old, and I am still mesmerized every single time she strings together a sentence.  She speaks with the most delicious mix of confidence and pure innocence.

She is magic.

Pure, utter, unadulterated magic.

All of this is not to say that I don’t love my son, her older brother, exactly as much as I love her.  He is, in more ways than a not quite ten year old boy should be, a rock.  He is quiet strength and old wisdom and unapologetic perspective and truth.  He is exactly and perfectly everything he is meant to be.

He is soothing salve on an oozing, screaming, throbbing and infected soul.

She is the life force that makes me grow new limbs.

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  1. avitable says:

    She is a little force of energy, except when she gets tired, then she gets cranky and can sleep anywhere. Like someone else I know . . .

  2. Al_Pal says:

    Awww. Beautiful. ♥

  3. And she will grow up and every time she smiles at you and hugs you, she will make your heart sing again.

  4. KIm says:

    What an amazing child, so like her mother. I hope one day to have the honor to bask in her glow. : )

  5. Chrissi says:

    Absolutely the sweetest picture of love..

  6. Tonz says:

    That’s a beautiful photo!! And ‘picture of love’ describes it perfectly.

  7. Joy says:

    I love my boys, fiercely, but there is *something* about my baby girl that makes my spirit sing.

  8. Mary Neal says:

    Perfect description of daughters..and sons.

  9. Karen says:

    Just beautiful. It gave me goose bumps to read the love and strength in your family.

  10. MB says:

    I’m glad you are able to get strength from your little girl. That is a beautiful photo.

  11. Sybil Law says:

    Yep. I get this, totally.

  12. ADW says:

    **Sniffle** I miss when my little girl was like that….

  13. Winter says:

    This made me want to hug my children, who sadly are grown and gone.

  14. Finn says:

    Gorgeous picture, gorgeous post.

    Again I am struck by how your writing is becoming truly extraordinary.

  15. Hockeyman says:

    Thank GOD for little girls.

    In your case, little boys too…

  16. Laura says:

    I read every day though I don’t often leave a comment. I’ve walk through your ups & downs with you and have lived your current heartache. This post made me tear up because it was my then 12 year old daughter & my 14 year old son who ‘made me live’.

    Now she is 18 and he is 20 & in the Army and she is a very strong young woman.

  17. perpstu says:

    Absolutely beautiful. That picture is priceless, it emobdies love in every way!

  18. melissa says:

    what a beatiful post and magical picture. love your writing

  19. They are really good at that, aren’t they?

  20. Mandi Bone says:

    As I was dying and the were trying to get the breathing tube in I screamed “Don’t let me die I need to be her mother” I have two little girls now and that is how I live my life. Don’t let me die I need to be thier mother.
    Wonderful post.

  21. Kris says:

    My sweet little girl has gotten me through more than I ever imagined possible. There is something about her that can always put things in perspective. Really, what is more important than my having her to snuggle up with….nothing.

  22. perfection!

    i was waiting for this post. you didn’t disappoint.

    and that photo is phenomenal.

    i’m so happy right now. sure, i can’t explain the joy this post gave me, but just know that it made me very, very happy. like happy girl wiggle happy.

  23. Dawn says:

    Everything about this is perfect.

  24. I know exactly what you mean. It’s that smile and that infectious laugh. All little girls have that. It’s like we gals are born to pass out those sly, side-long glances with a grin underneath. Miss-Miss melts my heart, constantly.

  25. Amazing. I feel the same way about my 5YO Boo. She is my rock and my touchstone.

  26. Bre says:

    Adorable. I enjoyed hanging out with her at your mom’s when she and Devin were in IA this summer. She decided to “swing” on *two* swings, all while standing, no less. The sight of her straddling two swings like nobody’s business makes me chuckle still. My heart skipped two beats when she called me “Aunt Bre”. Awwww…. I love that girl!
    And I enjoy Devin, too. He cracked me up when he told me, “I can do whatever I want when I grow up, because I’m good at math, science AND music!” I just hope he takes up something besides the recorder. LOL

  27. Carolyn says:

    What a beautiful picture of you and your daughter. I’ve always found it amazing how my children can lend me the strength to do anything – without even intending to do so.

    I guess according to the quote, your daughter will be a powerful woman indeed.

  28. Beautiful — the picture, the two of you, the post (inspired by such a beautiful book, too…). Thank you for this beautiful read….

  29. What a gorgeous, gorgeous picture.

    Your kids, and the differences between them, sound so much like my own. I GET who Emma is to you. What a strange coincidence that my blog name for my own 4 1/2 year old girl is Emma.

    Such a lovely post, Britt.

  30. Faiqa says:

    Exactly. Yes, exactly.

  31. I worried about having a daughter for so many reasons. I’m so grateful I’ve been given the chance. And this is why.

    Beautiful post, Britt.

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