When we lived in the mountains, I used to marvel at how the angle and quality of light exert their magic on the color and shape of the mountains, making them appear close enough to reach out and touch, or far and flat, as if painted on the horizon. Hubby and I chose a location with a view of the mountains when we got married, hoping that, by the time of the ceremony, they would take on their usual sunset blush. Instead, because it was monsoon season, we got rain. Lots of it. For a time, the mountains disappeared all together behind a veil of cloud. But when the downpour passed, we were left with a view of steely blue mountains against a gray sky. Dark and beautiful in a way we hadn’t expected.
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My mother used to tell me that when I was a child, the color of my eyes depended on the weather. On sunny days, they were blue. On cloudy days, gray. Two reflecting pools under a big sky.
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I’m sort of obsessed with what my baby looks like. Not so much what she looks like now (which, according to random strangers everywhere is a BOY), but what she will look like. Of course, I’ll think she’s beautiful no matter what, but there’s something appealing about the possibility of contrast. The combination of my light hair or eyes and Hubby’s dark features.
When she was born, I was utterly amazed at her appearance. She didn’t look like anyone. She was a totally new and unique being, not the spitting image of any near or distant relative. There were certain features I could lay claim to, like the faint vertical line between her nose and mouth, or the tiny dimples in her laugh lines. There were her feet, exact replicas, in miniature, of her father’s. But as a whole, she only looked like baby girl.
Her eyes are still the color they were when she was born: slate, with a ring of taupe around the pupil. Some days they seem darker, and I wonder if they’ll be closer to Hubby’s brown eyes. On sunny days, they almost look blue. And on cloudy days, a matte gray.
And I think of my mother, looking into her daughter’s eyes to predict the weather.
* * *
The first weeks and months of baby girl’s life have been filled with shadow and light. High highs and low lows in complex variations I couldn’t have anticipated prior to her birth. Entire days filled with darkness, when I couldn’t stop crying out of pain and frustration every time I attempted to feed my child. Days I wished my mother–or anyone–was around to offer help and support. Days when it felt like baby girl and I were battling each other over something as simple as a nap. Days I was overcome with worry about her nutrition and weight gain, or trying to decipher from her cries whether or not she was in pain. Moments I knew she was in pain because I’d just witnessed a doctor cutting the delicate tissues of her mouth, or “popping” the tissue that had reattached, which was so much worse. Feelings of failure and inadequacy, clouded by guilt, like I didn’t appreciate her or Motherhood enough.
And there have been sunny days, too. Happy times, like seeing her with my dad, sister, and niece. Her first fleeting smiles. Her cooing “conversations” and increasingly social interactions. Watching Hubby interact with her, witnessing the bond they have established and the love he shows for his daughter. Hearing the joy in his family’s voices when they see and sing to her via Skype. The intimacy only she and I share, prolonged eye contact during breastfeeding or the enjoyment of a favorite song. Moments of pride when she’d gained plenty of weight on my milk alone, or when strangers comment on her large, curious eyes.
She is a miracle, created at the intersection of love and science. Even on the darkest days, the mere fact of her existence is a ray of sunshine. Lighting the way out of the gloom to brighter days ahead.