Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pig Tails and Ankle Bones

This morning, I put Abby's hair into pig tails. I parted her hair, wetted her hair, sprayed detangler on her hair and after 2 1/2 minutes of coaxing and pulling, got one tail done. As I prepped the hair on the second half of her head, my memory tugged at me...this seems familiar. I moved on to the next mass of blond curls. When I finished, I stared at her.

Mouth open, jaw slack. Staring. Not at Abby, but at myself. In 1978.

Those pig tails, that part, the curls. She looked JUST LIKE ME. I stared at her hair and saw my own, from a faded Kodak memory (complete with rounded corners and on the back, my mother's neat handwriting marking the date).

Old photos and memories time traveling and converging as I prepare the kids for school. Usually a rote (and rushed, chaotic and slightly tense part of the morning) and there I was, swirling in an unexpected eddy of all tenses, past, present and future.

I snapped back and the frantic morning shuffle continued. When I looked down to grab a back pack, my memory stopped me again. Stared again. This time, at my ankle. There, just above my ankle bone, sat an odd, round dry patch of skin. I recognize this dark round oddity because I stared at the same one on my mom's ankle when I was....

wearing thick, blond, curly pig tails. Circa 1978.

I'll bet Abby doesn't yet know that she comes from a long line of lovely women who walked before her with odd, dry skin patches above their ankles. May she wear her genetic badge proudly. And hopefully, when she first sees hers, maybe when she's readying my grandchildren for school some distant day in the future, she'll smile. And remember.

ps--Luckily for Abby, she wears her paternal grandmother's genetic badges, too. She'll need to send many thank you notes to her Mimi, espousing thanks for the elegant, thin ankles which came from Mimi's gene pool. THEN she can send me a quick note of thanks for the odd dry skin patch. (You're welcome, sweet kid. You're welcome.)

5 comments:

Aging Mommy said...

Oh, I have to admit I envy you. My daughter looks nothing like me, in fact complete strangers on meeting me when with her when my husband is not around have been known to say "so does she look like your husband then?" Meaning either that or she must be adopted! Because yes, she looks like her Daddy. Which is wonderful, but I can't help wishing she did just look a little bit like me too!

It is funny though, looking at your child and seeing reflected back the features and expressions of family members.

Denise said...

You know, I so get that desire to have your child look like you. Both children looked like my husband at first. And now I'm so glad to have this link with Abby, although I'm not sure of the exact reason why I want it. It must be an ancestral carryover from the cave days....

MaFerron said...

this brought tears to my eyes...the way you capture the legacy of several generations of family women...
on the funny side, since I have two boys I am not sure I will ever have a pigtail moment but I loved seeing it through your eyes

Lindsey said...

I love the image of all the tenses converging ... this is super familiar to me.
My daughter looks so much like my mother-in-law ... my mother had adamantly claimed for years that she looks like me, but with "different coloring," but in March she saw Matt's mother for the first time in a while and grudgingly admitted she looked like her ... sigh. I wish she had red hair. I hate that I wish that, but I do!

Christine said...

My oldest is the splitting image and personality of his father. My youngest is me, but even more my dad. And it hits me in the gut whenever he gets these little expressions on his face. I'm amazed how we create them and they turn out like us. Amazing, really!