Early in the morning when the sky was still black, my four year old insomniac tiptoed to my bed.
“What’sa matter sweetie? You can’t sleep?”
She shook her head, climbed up in bed, snuggled in the covers, and turned on her tummy.
“Tickle my back, mommy.”
I danced my fingers up and down, side to side, and around her back in circles til she was calm and ready to go back to bed.
But then, of course, I was wide awake– thinking of the one who used to do the same for me.
When I would sit on my grandma’s gold davenport next to her, I would snuggle into her and then sit up so she could run her fingertips up and down, side to side, and swirling all around. It was so simple, it was nothing really, but it also made me feel loved and special. I could sit there forever and be with her, but of course she would have to get up sometime and pull something out of the oven.
I miss her. But I think of her when I soothe my anxious child the way my grandma taught me. And I wonder who taught her. Did her mother sweetly tickle her back when she couldn’t sleep at night? And her mother before her? I wonder how far back such a simple love of a mother or grandmother started.
It gives me hope. No matter how much we think we mess up as mothers, our little acts of love are what will be remembered and passed down through generations.
And I wonder if someday in the quiet of the night, my daughter will have a little person crawl up next to her and make the request…
“Tickle my back, mama.”