When I had my first daughter, I was astonished at the turn of my thoughts while we kept company in the wee hours. I had loved my son as well, instantly, and fallen in love with his fierce beauty. But with my daughter, I became a doorway for a supernal protectiveness that spanned across lifetimes. I recall looking into her wrinkly turtle face, kissing her soft head, and dropping prayers with tears over her hair. Only good for you, daughter, only good.
Daughters face a different world than sons. I kissed and stroked that tiny person, hoping and praying that if all goes well, she will live far beyond my years. When she is grizzled and old, her skin once again fragile and braced for a great transition, I hoped with all my being that someone filled with love and kindness would be there with her in her last bed, as I was at her first, to stroke her hair and kiss her soft face and love her.
Now I am here again in the throes of ferocious, tender mother love for our new daughter. I’m not as weepy as I was with her big sister, but I find my thoughts once more pacing imagined timelines. Whether she be mother or monk, I hope this child will find grace at every turn and at her departing. I hope to give her wisdom to make her way easier in life. I hope to protect her from the worser violence of this world.
But mostly, I hold those long, gracious fingers, wrinkled and dry from her life in the womb. They are the palindrome to old age. If all goes well, she will flex them in good works long after I am gone. If all goes well, I will not be there to kiss her hands when she is leaving. But I hope in these flying years to make a good beginning.
“O Lord, even if I have not done anything good before thee, do thou help me in thy grace to make a good beginning.”
-St. John Chrysostom Litany (11th hour)