Monday, July 16, 2012

mama mondays: daughters who braid


She was bored, waiting with the rest of us for the fireworks to start on the 4th.

"Mom, can I braid your hair?" she asked.

"Umm, sure, I guess."

It usually turned out on the disastrous side, but it was night and there was nothing better to do.

She lacked most of the essential tools, including a comb, but somehow, with just fingers to guide her, things came together rather nicely. I was impressed.


"Since when have you known how to braid so well?" I asked. She admitted she'd watched her sister, as well as some online tutorials. "At first, it wasn't very good," she added, "but I kept practicing and kept getting better."

My heart felt light, in awe that she'd learned this thing all on her own, based on sheer will.

"You're really good! You do a much better job than I've ever done," I told her.

Since then, I've been asking her some mornings if she'll braid my hair before I leave for work, and she's never once balked about it. Rather, she readily takes up the task with a smile, happy, it seems, to have something of value to offer me, her mother.

And I have to admit, this feels like more than just another hairstyle option.

Having my hair braided by my 12-year-old daughter, who is truly more adept at fashioning strands of hair into something presentation-ready  than I ever have been, has been an unexpected blessing.

I remember so well when she was on the floor and I was above her, her long hair in one of my hands, a comb in the other, and how I tried to do it justice. Or even further back, the times I tried to pin in barrettes to tame her unruly preschool mane.

But now, I'm on the floor and she's on the bed, skillfully weaving my hair into a near-flawless French braid. And as she does her work, sometimes starting over because it's not as good as she wanted, I feel my body relax, and I realize that this is one of the benefits of having daughters, and as well, having gotten through the years of piggy tails.

I marvel at her new skill, which symbolizes so much more than just the braiding of hair. To me, it means that she's now grown beyond what I am able to teach her in several areas. In fact, she's good enough with this skill to be my teacher.

Rather than feeling inadequate somehow, I feel a sense of satisfaction. This child who once slept in my womb -- the one I feared would die there as her brother before had -- is now coming into her own. She's on the cusp between childhood and the teen years preparing to make her mark.

Based on the tenderness of her hands on my head, whatever she will become, I know she will be a blessing to others. And I will be more than happy to share her with the world, because this, after all, is our ultimate goal as a parent -- to give our children enough of a base to allow them to fly when it's time, and touch the hearts and souls of others who need it.

I have a moment of realization, there on the floor, that this is one of those moments -- the hair-braiding session -- that I won't want to forget.

It's gold to me and I feel like the luckiest mama alive.

Q4U: When have you felt nurtured by your own children or others younger than you?

3 comments:

Marie said...

This is lovely. We had a similar ritual, although my Mom did the braiding, and I did the sitting. Just recently I've begun practicing on my own hair.

What a beautiful tradition!

Vicky said...

Oh how this touched me today! You are taking me right back to when my grandmother used to run her fingers through my hair- I loved the sensation. On her deathbed, the hospice nurse asked if perhaps I'd like to brush her hair and it was such an honor to return the favor...

What beautiful work your daughter has done!

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

Maybe I can borrow one of your daughters next time I visit, or you visit here. With my newish style of long hair, I've started wondering how it would looked braided, and who could even do it for me?

I have felt nurtured by my boys when I'm sick. They understand how to make someone feel more comfortable.