For her, we learned together how to communicate better. To work through sleeplessness and anxiety to solve the bigger problem, how to work together like we’ve never had to work before, to recognize and acknowledge how much we need each other. She taught us to be humble before each other and recognize our own failings before we jump to point out the other’s and through that, to embrace imperfection.
On Saturday we had a little party.
She speaks a language known only to her; experts call it “pre-verbal” but I think it’s a language of magic. Consider what I’ve learned from it, after all.
Humility: “No, honey, don’t throw up on the floor…try to get it all on my shirt. Therrrrrre you go.”
Speaking softly: “Maggie, we use our gentle hands when we touch other people. Gentle hands, GENTLE HANDS!”
Ah, I kid, but those are true and then some. She is the smallest teacher I have ever had and yet the one with greatest stature. When it’s dark and my body aches for sleep with nausea-causing intensity, she is the one who taught me to smile before I pick her up. To approach with joy, or if I can’t bring myself to feel joy, to always have my game face on. She taught me to play, but also that I have to be the grownup; she showed me how to be the kind of person who trusts their instincts and cut through the crap that other people would use to pollute your mind and distract you from what you know to be right.
From Maggie I learned to count to ten, to relax and let it be, what’s worth worrying about and what isn’t. To take the time to smell the soft baby scent of her hair because babies don’t keep; I know they don’t. Every time I pick her up I take a moment to inhale the smell of her neck and admire the color of her eyes as she unfolds like a complex wine; different with each sip and always rich and delicious. Through those eyes I see colors I never noticed.
She taught me to breathe.
Maggie taught me about her father, too. My wonderful husband, who has the biggest heart of anyone I know, expanded to giddy heights with his baby girl. Maggie unlocked a side of her dad that I had never known was there: a man who is fabulous with children, who can relate to them and communicate easily with tiny tots. She taught me that my husband can still surprise me.
She taught us to be better than we are.
Happy birthday, Margaret Kelley. We are better because of you.