I have a vivid memory of tentatively walking toward the little pink sleepers hanging in Nordstrom. I gently lifted one from the rack and laid it along my arm as if it were a baby. I felt excitement bubbling up, and I quickly put it back. This was my third pregnancy—and I thought I didn’t care either way—but I think even then, something inside of me knew . . . I needed my daughter.
I was driving with a tantruming toddler when the doctor called me with the results. The baby was healthy and did I want to find out the gender? We originally were going to wait, but in a moment of weakness, I told them to tell me.
“It’s a girl!” the nurse said with excitement in her voice. Never in my life have I burst into tears like I did in that moment. I thought I didn’t want to find out. I said I didn’t care either way, but there it was again, this almost primal feeling that I needed her.
She was born in the spring, the doctor pulled her from my stomach behind a bright blue sheet, and with genuine excitement, the doctor shouted, “Oh Krystal, she’s gorgeous!” They handed her to me. She had thick black hair, and I thought she looked like me as a baby. But stronger than anything I saw in front of me, a whisper in my heart made me think of my best friend Michelle. Looking at her face reminded me of the comfort and love I have with a friend of 30 years. I’d only known her a few minutes, but the best friend connection I felt was as if I’d known her my whole life.
I’m almost six years in with this little woman, and she has changed my world. She has shown me how daughters heal mothers. I think about hard things that happened in my own childhood, and I know I can do better for her. I see myself in her—what I was like before hard times in life changed me. I love how boldly she takes on the world, I love how gentle she is with others, I love how much I already trust her judgment. She has brought me back to my childhood self.
Mother-daughter relationships are complicated and special for this very reason. Mothers know what it is to be a woman—the hard things, times we weren’t heard, denied an opportunity, felt afraid walking alone, were told to be seen and not heard, were taken advantage of, the weight of being a woman—and we want better for our daughters. They represent that clean slate of innocence we all wish we still had. A younger version of ourselves . . . one we want to go back and protect and cherish. I know my own mom wanted that for me, and I know her mom wanted that for her. I know I want that for my little girl.
Even if I mess it all up from here, even when she’s 13 and tells me she hates me, my little girl put me back together in ways that can’t be undone. A daughter heals a mother, changes a mother—she is the part of us that disappeared. And if a mother is very lucky . . . a daughter is a best friend.