Postscript to the Bond–In Which I (Try to) Smooth the Split-Ends

Dear Lily June,

It doesn’t seem fair to end it there. My “Bond” post needs a postscript. So here goes.

***

I’ve always loved my mother’s red hair. It doesn’t matter to me that it’s been dyed, has always been since she started graying in her late teens. It has always, for as long as I’ve been alive, been the color of fire’s dying embers. When I was younger, it had been as intoxicating to stare into as the deep brick hue of her curtains. Imagine the secrets they hid from the neighbors as to the violence going on in that bedroom. Her hair created the same mystery to me as to what went on in my mother’s mind. I think of Nijinsky’s words:

“God is a fire in the head.”

***

While you were being born, Lily, I was stuck in the hospital for almost a week, laying in the same bed night after day, sweating into the sheets all the pain and confusion of the troubles with your delivery at the end. My hair became a cruel eggless nest, a series of knots and tangles exhausting just to look at, a labyrinth’s intentionally unruly hedge.

For hours, without having even been asked, my mother sprayed de-tangling solution into the mess and worked her wrist over and over through it, trying to give my mane some semblance of having once, ever, been tamed. She brushed it until it must have tired her muscles, enraged the arthritis in her shoulders and neck. She never complained. I’ve rarely had a moment with her be so tender.

***

Everywhere your father and I go with you today, people stop and stare. “Look at the baby with all the hair,” they exclaim. And it’s true. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: For an almost eight-month-old, you still have a lustrous and beautiful brunette mop.

It fortunately hides the unfortunate fact that you also have cradle cap, have had since you were just a heart-sized body lolling in my lap. Every so often, I take out baby oil and massage it into the near-microscopic scales that form in your scalp. I run a comb ever so gently over the area and tiny flakes of white–like snow kicked up in a gust–come trickling up.

I do this over and over for you, snuggling into your warmth while I comb and comb. No matter what you might think reading this when you’re older, Lily, to me, it is an act of pure love.

***

Our lives get twisted into one another’s as if the generations were physically braided together. And between her fire and my nest and your scales, it’s up to each of us to admire and tend to one another. It is a privilege to be my mother’s daughter. It is an honor to be your mother.

***

Picture Credits:

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7 thoughts on “Postscript to the Bond–In Which I (Try to) Smooth the Split-Ends

  1. Patricia says:

    To quote you, “Wow, just wow!” I can’t even find the words for what I felt as I read this. It reminded me of being in the hospital in a ward with old women because my parents couldn’t afford a private or even semi-private room. When my mother came to visit, I was facing the wall and obviously depressed so she put me in a wheelchair and took me into the the very small lobby where she painted my fingernails. A nurse came by and ordered my mother to return me to my bed. She said no one gave her permission to take me out. It pains me to this day to remember how that diatribe took away my mother’s right as a mother to care for her child in whatever way she felt was needed. She didn’t say a word, she just did what she was ordered to do. I could see her become small and powerless in her own eyes. At the time, I felt her shame and discomfort as well as my own. In this moment, I feel intense sadness at the memory yet reading your story, I can see that she knew how depressing a situation I was in and wished she could do more for me and that was love just as your mother did what little she could to comfort you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      We focus so much on the forest, sometimes we forget the trees. It’s the little moments like these that make up love, motherhood, and life, isn’t it? That’s another reminder I need every day of my life: To keep my eyes open to the little things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Patricia says:

        I have a nic nac of a lttle angel with a wreath on its head holding a heart in its hands that my youngest daughter gave to me when she was young and it is my most prized possession. It said so much to me. As you said, its the little things.šŸ˜

        Liked by 1 person

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