State Of Grace

Entry by: Briergate

8th August 2016
State of Grace. To my daughter.

Clumsy and colt-like, your limbs flex in wild angles. We laugh, sometimes, when we know you won’t catch our shared derisory glances behind your wobbling back. Sometimes, you seem drunk. Even before you could walk, you did things in an unusual way. Rather than crawling, you used to sit, rubbery legs extended, and bounce with maximum enthusiasm and minimum effectiveness, to cover short spaces with huge effort. What you lacked in prowess, you more than compensated for through determination, and humour.

Walking, then, took a little time, and when you finally raised yourself up, amazed and enthralled by the new vista afforded by the discovered height you gained. The view, you loved. The need to let go of the furniture to explore further? Not so much. You walked as if you were drunk, at first. We’d hover behind you, arms outstretched like walking dead behind you, never quite managing to pre-empt all hazards and prevent you from tumbling down. In fairness, many of your hazards were invisible to adult eyes. They blocked you like an obstacle course, these mythical risks, and we’d reach out and cuddle after the event, scanning the carpet in perplexity to try and see what caused your falls.

I took you to a ballet class once. A head taller at least than the pudgy little cherubs older then you, you lit up with the magic of wielding a sparkly stick, and being immersed in music, and pink, and purpose. I sat back with the other mothers, full of pride, until the pride turned to horror, and then mirth. You ran to the left, when everyone else moved right. You happily weaved counter-clockwise against the flow of little angels, brandishing your wand high, enthusiastic and determined, and utterly, utterly disastrous.

And so, we tried swimming. You clung to me vice-like as I waded up and down in turbulent laps, your terrified dimpled elbows restricting my breath. We tried martial arts, then. Tae Kwon Do was an enthusiastic flop, when you failed to master left and right, unceremoniously punching a fellow student completely by accident. Karate? I was quietly and politely drawn to one side, and told it may be better to hold off for a year or two, for the sake of the other less accident-prone students.

And, so, daughter. You are graceless in this unwieldy outer casing of yours. It never quite does as it’s told. You are far too tall, and far too slim, to be anything other than a pink string-bean, with feet too large to hold in check. Still now, at five, your walking and running style, windmilling along, makes your mummy and daddy smile, while people around you combine nervousness (moving away delicate objects, moving away delicate children), with fond smiles.

I get it, you know? I was the same, once. And perhaps, with my solid hips and broad shoulders, I still feel the sting of being ‘robust’, or ‘solid’. Capable hands. Not for you and I, the endearments such as ‘cute’, ‘pixie-like’, ‘elegant’, or ‘dainty’. No. We are of the ilk of femininity which makes men measure the width of us, considering us as good prospects for child-bearing. We attract on the strength of tennis-player legs, without the agility or co-ordination of the ability to play the game.

Don’t think twice about it, though. I have a secret. You are utterly, completely, flooded with grace. You may not ever feel graceful, standing hunched and tall at the back of the group school photograph, but I know better. When you’re slouched, desolate, on the school field having been bypassed once more as your peers select their team, I want you to remember something.

You have grace. When you bend down in wonder, to watch a worm as it wriggles with arcs and turns towards a crack in the paving stone, you have grace. When you dance in crooked circles, arms and legs flailing to make your shadow dance with you, you have grace. When you fall, grit and blood and tears mingling in a permanent bodily betrayal, you have grace. When you pause, wide-eyed, to point out a cloud in the shape of a unicorn, there is grace.

Grace, then, isn’t a physical attribute. It’s the gentle kindness of consideration. It’s the remarkable quality of viewing this critical world in a unique way, insisting upon the beauty of it, above the challenges. It’s about reaching a hand out to the cat, who flees with arched back and bared claw to escape your unpredictable feet, and strive to win back trust through persistent kindness.

It’s in the silvery giggle that makes people around you pause and laugh with you, even though you haven’t shared the joke. Grace is warmth, and kindness, and humour, and a permanent, die-hard refusal to let your disobedient body keep you down.

For me, my string-bean, you are a state of grace. I would swap the elegance of a prima ballerina for the grace within you. One day, that too-tall, ungainly and disappointing body will bloom. Until that time, your inner grace will make you appear to be the most delicate, perfectly-proportioned little girl imaginable. I am in awe of your grace.