Ten Wrinkly Toes


This story begins in the couscous aisle. I was shopping for dinner when I felt a bubble pop, and right away I knew it was you, the unmistakable feeling of the first kick. Your little feet with ten wrinkly toes. I imagined they were curling, growing, and now introducing themselves.

"Hello, my darling girl."

Four days later your Dad placed his hand on my stomach after a brisk walk and you jumped off my belly button like a trampoline. He felt you too, and we grinned.

Your feet came out first. Or rather, that's how you intended it, but the doctors brought you out with a cesarean section. It wasn't until days later, when I was recovered enough to unwrap your thick layers of swaddled blankets that I saw it: a tiny birthmark on the inside of your right ankle.

It was so teeny, so not on any other baby, in that particular shape, ever before. It made you human. It made me fall madly, exquisitely in love.

Your cute little feet have since kicked off dozens of baby socks; floated you from my loving arms to your Dad's, and back; waddled through an apple orchard as you took your first steps; been tickled by freshly cut grass; poked out of warm bubble baths; and been nestled in my hands as I have tried to -- often unsuccessfully -- cut your toenails.

Your feet have walked, run, skipped and hop scotched down our driveway, and I have stared at them while you’ve read stories with your Dad. Over and over and over, memorizing every detail.

Almost three years later, I put your brother next to you on the couch and your legs intertwined the way only siblings' bodies can. It was a hot summer day and your four bare feet made my eyes well up. Two sets. Two people. Twenty toes that came from me and were now ready to climb mountains. Or at the very least, all of our furniture.

My dream is that your feet will take you all over the world, that they will help you march in protest to life's injustices, that they will help you stand firmly in the things in which you believe.

Maybe some day you'll twirl in front of an audience singing opera, or you’ll pace back and forth in a big lecture hall, or you’ll stand face to face with your love promising to be together forever.

Or perhaps some day your feet will dance in a field of wildflowers, or shift perspective in front of a canvas, or steady themselves over a body in the operating room.

(You know, the details don't much matter to me. They are your details to find.)

But I do hope that your feet will always feel welcome to come home, to walk into my kitchen, sit down in front of a cup of tea, and allow me to say, once again: "Hello, my darling girl."

I also hope that you and your brother's feet stay intertwined. Perhaps some day when he calls you to say he's had his heart broken, your feet will sprint over to his apartment, and you'll stand in his doorway, reaching out to him to say, "Come 'ere. It's okay." Then your four feet will walk by the ocean or.... go to a bar. Whatever works.

But my simplest wish for your feet is just that they feel. Feel the rocks, the sand, the heat, the cold, the broken glass of life's unfairness, and the cushion of second chances.

May your cute little birth mark, and the other millions of things that make you special, always be a reminder that you were made to be imperfect, and that everyone is. And that your imperfections can be a source of strength and compassion.

May your feet always be as proud of themselves as I am of you. Walk on, my darling girl.

Guest post written by Nina Cutter. Originally from Norway, Nina is a writer and photographer who lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two children. 

Photo by Ashlee Gadd