It was a diamond. She had it appraised and it was a perfect diamond. She held onto it for 20 years until he asked for it back. When Andy proposed at a museum in New York, he presented me with that stone.
My friend has a card taped to her bathroom mirror. It reads
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
I think people are born knowing this and we unlearn it. Kids trust themselves, they know their inner voice. They are firm in belief and self-awareness.
The other day Margot was chatting with a friend as they hauled their sleds up the hill, my friend and I a few paces ahead. Margot said, “Mom! She said only a man and woman can get married. But I told her about Sarah and Candice and they are both girls. And John and Tony are both boys.” And then, without time for response, Margot said, “Well, I just know anyone can marry anyone.” And she and her pal brightly hopped in the sled and slid smoothly across the hillside toward their future.
Margot has such a sharp delivery with words. People often curiously ask how old she is because clearly she is four but her soul is pensive, smart and particular in that way my grandparents were. Sometimes her delivery is perceived as blunt, rude even, but I know she is just direct. She says what she wants to say, with real emotion and conviction. She is full of love. I admire the shit out of her confidence.
It is one of my jobs as her mama to encourage a softening to her words. I find it a challenge because I never want her to soften. When pressed I want her to feel it, absorb the pliable indentation of flesh and then respectfully push back. Be affected, form an opinion and respond with strength and kindness.
One day we were leaving and it was smooth because we had talked in advance about how it might feel to remove the dress and walk away. It was a parenting triumph! I felt like I had successfully prepared my daughter for the heartache in a way that allowed her to feel the sadness but move through it. And then, in a surprise twist, Phoebe said, “Want to borrow it for a few days?”
Margot looked at me with eyes like moons. We walked across the street with the dress, veil and shoes. We were going to the family symphony, an annual Missoula event where a brilliant collection of musicians have fun in order to educate and entertain people of all ages. (This was our first year attending and it was amazing). Phoebe and her family were going as well and she suggested Margot could even wear it there. Margot said, “Oh yeah. And the veil too.” Phoebe maturely tried to dissuade her, telling her the veil is for pretend weddings. Margot wore the veil, crooked so she could flick it about when she talked, like a teenager with a beloved side ponytail.
Andy and I raised our eyebrows in enamored interest at how much the outfit changed Margot’s affect. She was, well, ME. Ruby would whine and tug and instead of protesting and shrieking for a parent, Veiled Margot would say, as she kissed her forehead, Oh, babe. You are feeling frustrated? Tell me what you need.
It lasted for three days, the costume consumption. And then she bravely handed the whole tattered shebang over to me (minus the glass slippers) declaring it was time. “I am ready to give these back to Phoebe. I think we should wash them first.” Now she is onto two silk scarves tied as tight as you can around her middle under every outfit.
I suppose every person feels as I do about the people they create. Still, this one. I feel so lucky I get to witness her accomplishments and choices. I don’t know a person with her enthusiasm, dedication and passion. My cheeks ache when I think about what she’ll grow into, my bug.