I spent the day holding a baby. Three months old he slightly squirmed in my arms. His mama said he doesn’t smile at people like he does with me. I told her it’s the curls. They spiral and twist, my hair is big. Big enough for him to pull on tight.
I sang him lullabies and recited surahs. I danced with him and blew on his face when he got hot. I spent nine hours caring and loving. I like this work.
I have a stepdaughter now. She just turned ten. She plays legos and talks in different accents. While I cook dinner I pretend we’re in a Broadway musical. She sits at her art table and laughs, “oh Mimi”. I wonder when I birth more children, inshaAllah, what they will call me. Mama, Mami or Mimi. This is unlike the childhood of my home. I’ve noticed that the stings stay with me longer and I have to remember the good moments, too.
I am remembering now. I remember my mami teaching me how to dance and her songs while she sewed. I remember the Julio Iglesias records, the Sunday morning boleros and me trying to dance like Janet Jackson after watching Video Music Box. I remember the 80s, Doug E Fresh, Slick Rick and looking out the apartment window. I won’t tell you about the silence because I’ve written too much about that.
My stepdaughter is now one of my teachers. I am learning to guide her in ways that I cherish from my mami and to be more mindful of where she is at right now. I feel like I am taking a crash course. Thankfully, I love her. I love how she stays hugging me for a long time. In the middle of the living room I tell her about Stevie Wonder as she hears my heart beat.
This is loving in contentment. Sometimes it feels like bliss.