Memoir project: Daughter

I haven’t been able to write here for a while, but here is something I am working on:

August 1996


I lay awake in my room at the hospital, and watched our new baby Paige as I wrote in my journal. I watched her facial expressions, and made note that her hair was the same color as mine. For a time, she lay in the crib, calmly looking about with wide eyes, and I wondered what she was experiencing. I saw Richard’s eyes and nose in her features, but claimed her mouth to be like mine. Her round face is imprinted in my memory. Clichés and effusive expressions about Paige and Richard were all that I could write to mark the day. I was twenty-one years old, and had gained a new title of Mother. I have spent the rest of my life since, trying to master the words to describe what this role means.

Paige was the anticipated first grandchild for my parents. My mom, who left me with a kiss on the cheek, and later, my brother Paul came by the hospital during my labor. Paige was born on a Tuesday afternoon, after several nights of little sleep and false alarms. I felt Richard’s concern for me in the days before she was born, and needed his support at her birth.

Richard went with the nurse to give Paige her first bath and was gone for a while. My room was near the nursery, and I peeked in to find him watching her, intently. When he returned to my room to check on me, he smelled of Johnson’s Baby Wash after holding her for so long, a smell that will always evoke images of our babies.

We named our daughter Paige, after one of my Young Women leaders. This leader was educated, beautiful, and a dancer. The name Paige means “young helper,” and I knew she would be a help to our family.

That night I thought about where her spirit had been before she arrived. Richard’s maternal grandmother passed away just before Paige was born. My Great-grandmother Spencer passed away earlier that year. I wonder if there was a crossing of paths, with hugs, a cheer, and encouragements for Paige from these women as she made her journey to us. It takes courage, I think, to choose to be born, to choose to become a parent, and to choose to embrace the role of women. Yes, I am sure we need the strength and goodness of those on the other side of this journey, and they are with us, not just at the crossroads, but steadily through our days.

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I write so my family will always have letters from home.