She broke me eight years ago—this little girl—3.5 kilos, 7 pounds, 12 ounces. She broke the shell I was, full to brimming with her inside, all I ever wanted, my biggest hope.
She broke my expectations: I thought it wouldn’t be so hard. I thought I knew what was coming. I thought I’d bend and stretch to fit the changes seamlessly without shaking, without crying.
Instead, I lay there, split down the middle, my own heart hers and beating outside my body.
I would wake up in the middle of the night just to see if she was breathing. Once, I was sure I had buried her under feathers somewhere in a tiny corner—it was only a dream vexed to nightmare by colic and crying and not enough sleep.
I still shudder when I think of it—of searching, never finding. My heart in her, where did I hide it?
She broke my boundaries and the niceties that make no sense. I remember there on the corner one day, she asleep in her stroller, and a stranger came and pulled back the sun visor, and this voice mighty and deep, a voice wrought by generations of warrior women, came out of me: GET. THE. HELL. AWAY. FROM. MY BABY. And that voice broke through—that voice so unlike my usual voice? You know? The one that ended in a question mark? Because I was never sure? This time I was sure. GET. THE. HELL. AWAY.
She broke me, this little girl—my baby girl, my daughter. She cleaved me into two parts: one part mine, and the other hers. She split my heart open, and it’s still open, still beating outside my body when she skips down the road and out of my site. Still beating outside my body when she falls on the grass and skins her knee. Still beating outside my body when she’s afraid or feels alone, or is angry and slams the door.
(There are eggshell cracks in the wall by the door when she slams it—she is her mother’s daughter, after all—she took my warrior heart.)
She is mine, and yet she is her own. Just as my mother used to look at me, so too I look at her. And just as my mother used to say to me, “You’ll have my hands one day, as I have my mother’s hands,” I now know what she means. And I look at my hands and see my mother’s heart beating through my veins, and my daughter will one day see the same.
From generation to generation, we break our mothers and our daughters break us and we are open and bleeding and never fully healed, but in those spaces and in those cracks, the light gets in. And we grow.