It's amazing how this little creature that you've convinced yourself is half you, half your spouse, is really comprised of so many people that came before you.
Although people tell me Stella is my spitting image, I almost always see my own brother, Jason, in her facial expressions. In the picture above, for example, she looks just like my brother when he is finding a way to insinuate that I'm of sub-par intelligence ("stup," as my family calls it). I wish I had a good digital photo of my brother so you could see the uncanny resemblance for yourself, but somehow Dave and I tend to overload our computer's memory with photos of Stella, cats and Dave's myriad guitars rather than our own family members. (Yay priorities!)
It's not always Stella's physical appearance that reminds us of others, though. Although Stella's fiery personality reminds some people of me (I have no idea why), I've also been touched and delighted to find my own grandmother peeking out from Stella's mannerisms lately.
Millie "Mamaw" Miles passed away in December 2005, two and a half years before Stella's birth. She was an incredible baker, an awesome ghost-storyteller, and a generous shoulder on which to cry. Her most amazing talent, some might argue, though, was worrying.
That woman worried nonstop. She worried when I had to give a speech in front of my high school graduating class. "What if you trip walking to the stage?" She worried about me going to college an hour and a half away. "All that driving!" She worried when I had a boyfriend. "Is he a nice boy? Does he come from a good, Christian family?" She worried when I didn't have a boyfriend. "Ain't you lonely, honey?" She even worried when she had nothing to worry about. "I just feel like I forgot something that was worrying me."
When I moved from a town of 1,000 people in Kentucky to New York City, my grandmother's worry-ometer went through the roof. I know she was upset to lose her beloved granddaughter, but I think she was too busy worrying about all the things that could go wrong in the big bad city to process that.
I forget which of my Mamaw's friends it was who said the magic words, "I don't ever worry about anything, because I know Millie will worry for me!"
Mamaw's worrying wasn't confined to her brain. Her worry exhibited itself physically, through what I always thought of as "the worry foot." She'd be relaxing on the couch, watching CMT, but that foot wouldn't stop thinking about her neighbor whose son was having his gallbladder removed. That foot would pat the linoleum, swish from side to side, bounce to a song by The Kentucky Headhunters, then wiggle angrily. Sometimes Mamaw would worry about her worry foot, and tell her company, "oh, don't mind my foot!"
Well, Stella has a worry foot, too. While I nurse her, Stella's little foot is constantly moving up and down, stroking my side, tickling my underarm, patting my thigh. Sometimes I grab her little worry foot, because it's so chunky and delicious, but she always wriggles it free so it can continue to worry.
Her foot doesn't just worry while nursing; it worries in the car seat, in the stroller, while I'm wearing her in the Ergo, when she's sitting on anyone's lap, during tummy time, etc. Her foot is training for the Olympics of body-part-worrying!
While I hope my girl can avoid the plague of worry that seems to affect almost every female from my gene-pool, I love that she has this particular trait from a great-grandmother she'll sadly never get to meet. I get to remember my amazing Mamaw every single day that I look at my girl, and Stella helps my Mamaw live on, just by being adorable!