A tiny hand holds tightly to mine as I lift my 2 year old niece up onto the low wall in front of our house. The minute she feels safe she starts wriggling out of my grip and I have to hold her little wrists, my big fingers encircling them completely, because, “We can’t sit on the wall and not hold on.”
This love we (Big Friendly and I) have for this person is unique and delicious, and agonising. She has come with her parents to visit from Jozi, where they live, and it is always too short seeing her, how ever long it is. It is the paradox of love that makes us the perfect uncle and aunt when they visit us, or we visit them, or we go on holiday together. Heaven, right here on family earth. And it is a paradox that prevents us from uprooting our lives and going to Jozi to live with her, where we would not be these people there. Our hearts remain torn, and she is growing too fast, and we spoil her rotten, because we don’t see her enough. We squeeze her too tightly, and kiss her too often, and say “careful, don’t run” because our own hearts are in our mouths.
I love watching her turn to look at me and laugh. I love her dancing and singing (she is very, very clever). I love her slang, picked up fluidly from her father, and her kindness from her mother. I love her memory, and vocabulary and her powerful manipulative ways. I love that she trusts us, and wants to please us, and can sleep, and wake up to us. I love that she spent the day saying “I love dogs”, because we do, and we say so. I love that she is so funny, and finds me so funny too. I love that sometimes she cannot bring herself to say sorry, or please, or thank you, and sometimes it springs from her lips with ease.
And it is a paradox, of a kind, that people say what wonderful parents we would have made, with a sad tone; too late now. And I have to remind them that I didn’t want to have children in the first place, even though I probably might have been a rather good mom. The one thing doesn’t necessarily go with the other. But when I see this person, and imagine her as mine, in some way, like us belonging to a tribe, she is my daughter, and I her mother, and all mothers, even the one I never had.
This is the final post in our series of tandem blog posts. I think they have been truly fabulous and special. Please read the next one, with the same title here.
Dave Luis: https://bloggsymalone.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/just-one-of-those-paradoxical-observations/comment-page-1/#comment-1760