Briar has discovered braids.

“Mama, will you put a bray in mine hair?”

It began a few weeks ago, and I have since created many little braids in her hair, some lasting but a moment before she pulled them out, others holding on until lights out. I’ve transformed Ariel from sleek, flame haired mermaid, to wild fiery, rastafarian goddess. Some of the other Barbies have not fared so well. (Snow White, for example, did not transition well from her sleek flip to the multi-braideed maiden Briar insisted she become.) This morning Briar learned to hold still. It may not seem like much, but in the moment after saying:

“Honey, you need to sit still and look at Avery so mommy can braid your hair.”

I braced for the inevitable fidgeting and the frequent touches with her little nails-bitten-to-the-quick fingers, patting to inspect my progress. As I fixed her hair without interruption I realized that she had changed. She was sitting still. Last night she went to bed a little girl who did not understand the connection between sitting still and having a pretty braid. And this morning she sat ram-rod straight, barely even breathing as I worked.

When she turned to me and tilted her head as if to say, “Here mama, look at what you did,” my breath caught. Something was different. As I looked at her, she smiled and I saw in those impossibly blue eyes the reflection of these past 2 and half years.

There were the nights spent soothing her to sleep.
Our shrieks and laughter at the park.
Stolen moments behind her door, my own hot silent tears after a scolding.
I see her warily approaching the hospital bed to meet her sister.
Her sleeping face. Staring back at me were discoveries of fairy beds and princess sparkles, sidewalk chalk and spit bubbles.

In that simple moment, barefoot and unshowered in the kitchen, I realized that despite mistakes and frustration, I have done something right. She is my daughter and she is simply amazing.

I shook my head and said,”Briar, I love you so much. Your hair looks so beautiful and you helped me so much by sitting still.”

“Mama, I make you happy. You make me happy.”
Then she walked over, placed her hands on either side of my face and pulled me into a kiss.

“I love you so much, mama.”

So much indeed.