Even though it was 27 years ago, I still remember my daughter’s first smile. I’d been giving and giving and giving to that child. I shared my body with her. I gave birth to her which was a pretty major endeavor. And then for those first six weeks or so it was that endless cycle of nursing, diaper changes, getting to know her, miles and miles of rocking her to sleep. On this one, crisp October morning she locked eyes with me and smiled. It was a for real smile not a gas or accident smile. I remember being astounded. I even said out loud to her, “You mean you’re going to give something back?” It filled me, that smile.
So fast forward a few decades. Her son is now six weeks old. He’s been smiling a bit but those were just accidental smiles amid the myriad of faces he makes awake and asleep. I love all his faces. His mad cry face is one of my favorites, but I like them all. I just happened to be there the week he started to smile (because I can’t quit going back to take him in.)
He locks eyes and smiles. I wish I had words to describe how that felt…like connection, wonder, rebirth, joy, love. Then of course, I was beside myself trying to get him to smile again and again. He has a crooked smile and it is gorgeous.
And now he joins that great company of people, all around the world who can gift one another with a smile. A smile is the same in every language amazingly. It cuts across cultures, traditions and socio-economic classes.
The day my grandson smiled at me, I decided I was going to do that too. If he could bring that much joy to me, I can share it. So, I’m practicing: just lock eyes and smile; lock eyes and smile. Strangers seem to like it. Wait staff at restaurants do too. My husband enjoys it and so does my big football player son. You have to look up from your phone or your work or your computer and notice people to do it. It takes practice.
Mother Teresa, always wise and perceptive, said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” I’ve learned it from babies. Lock eyes and smile and see what happens.