When I was young I bemoaned ever having long nails and I bit them and chewed them and picked them through the stress of each new boyfriend becoming old and every old boyfriend wanting to switch to something new. And when I thought I needed them to be long and strong to mount a good offense or a strong defense they remained flimsy and bent they broke and peeled leaving me feeling defenseless and vulnerable. But as I have aged they have changed. Gotten harder, more layered, more prone to growing unable to be broken or bitten requiring tools and weaponry to tame them down to acceptable levels. And I remember looking at my mother’s hands when I was young and admiring her long, strong, beautiful nails. My mother who fought with me when I brought home a new boyfriend she knew would become an old boyfriend after he gouged out a piece of my heart. My mother who fearlessly and sometimes ruthlessly protected me from all things, myself included, at the time when I was still bone soup, growing and not yet hardened off like a young apple tree before it can bear fruit spine malleable and tilted with active growth plates flexible and changing. And I look at my own daughters growing into the soil, putting down tentative roots and sending out feelers beyond the safety of my limbs like small birds in a treed nest setting themselves to take flight and I see their soft, small nails absolutely no good for defense and I think maybe it is nature’s way of passing down safety messages down through generations the way crows will scold and caw to warn others of danger. And I see how my talons have grown in exactly the right way to make sure my daughters will fledge and grow and survive until they grow the talons they need to protect their own precious young.
Alison D. Hauch is an educator and mother of twin daughters who studied English Literature and Dance at Western University. In her spare time she loves to read, practice yoga and bake fattening food. She writes about the everyday experiences of being a woman and a mother and how these experiences have changed over time.