When I was little it was easy. "She's my mom," was all I'd say. Everyone knew what that meant, what the title "mom" entailed, at least in my mind. Everyone knew that moms make you macaroni and cheese and tuck you in at bedtime and tell you to settle down when you're being too noisy and they're on the phone. Everyone knew that moms read thick novels, "grown-up books," but will gladly put them aside to read you your favorite story, even though they've read it a thousand times before. And everyone knew that moms gave you hugs, that they would hold you when you were sad, or scared, or sleepy, or silly. Everyone knew that when your head rested under your mom's chin and she spoke to you, you felt rather than heard her voice, as acutely as you felt the soft cotton of a sundress or the rough wool of a turtleneck sweater rubbing against your cheek. I thought everyone knew this, because I did.
Now that I'm older, my mom is no different to me. No different, but somehow deeper, more. More to me because I have become her, in more ways than either of us realize. Her face, her smile, her voice all mirror my own, or do mine mirror hers? (At least I know I'm not adopted.) The same full mouth, the same second toe slightly longer than the first, the same stack of thick novels by our nightstands. Our sky-blue eyes and rounded cheeks make photos of us at the same age inter-changeable. If we stood on either side of you and sang you would hear one voice in stereo. See one face in two places.
And someday, when I have a child pressed to my heart, when I have put aside my thick novel to read to her, or when she is sad, or silly, or scared, and I speak to her, she will feel, rather than hear, the same voice that I did: my mother's, and mine, and, someday, her own.