I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.
When I did get married and then had children, it was Beatles' songs I sang to them at night. As one of the youngest of 24 cousins, I had never held an infant or baby-sat. I didn't know any lullabies, so I sang Sam and Grace to sleep with 'I Will' and 'P.S. I Love You.'
I was a mother who worked ridiculously hard to keep catastrophe at bay. I didn't allow my kids to eat hamburgers for fear of E. coli. I didn't allow them to play with rope, string, balloons - anything that might strangle them. They had to bite grapes in half, avoid lollipops, eat only when I could watch them.
We were a family that made our Halloween costumes. Or, more accurately, my mother made them. She took no suggestions or advice. Halloween costumes were her territory. She was the brain behind my brother's winning girl costume, stuffing her own bra with newspapers for him to wear under a cashmere sweater and smearing red lipstick on his lips.
I was a daughterless mother. I had nowhere to put the things a mother places on her daughter. The nail polish I used to paint our toenails hardened. Our favorite videos gathered dust. Her small apron was in a box in the attic. Her shoes - the sparkly ones, the leopard rain boots, the ballet slippers - stood in a corner.