Friday, August 19, 2011

On Mothering

"I feel we are all islands - in a common sea." ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The waxing and the waning. It is true - no greater sense of love have I ever felt than when I look upon my children's faces, all three of them reflecting back at me my joy, my responsibility, my duty, my heart.

They come from me. It still takes my breath away, even after all these years. They come from me. Would it matter had I not bore them? I think not. They would still come from me, be my children, my joy, my responsibility, my duty, my heart.

They are not objects. They do not live in a china cabinet, only to suffer occasional dusting and gazing upon by eyes that are afraid to use them, for fear that they'll break and be lost forever. They are not family heirlooms. But still...

That weight of motherhood. Oh - that weight.

I think daily about my role, my place, my purpose. Their mother. Their mother. Their mother.

With one attending elementary school, one in the middle, and one dangling even farther from the place of familiar, it's hard. This mothering. The intense need to protect, to cover, to guide. I learned long ago that the tether holding us together was a fragile one, but not until recently did I realize that if I don't make every right move, say every right word, and do every right thing - it could break. I really don't want it to break.

I want to cocoon us together forever. Wrap each one of them up like a spider does it's prey and never let them go. Keep them in my web, under my wing, in my home - their home, until I can no longer do my job. Mothering.

I'm so selfish.

It's this constant push-pull. One minute I can't wait for them to have space, the next I want to lock them all in a closet and stow the key in a far off place. I'll feed them nutritious meals in that closet, educate them through volumes of National Geographics and make sure every breath of air they take is that of pure, clean, unadulterated air. They will be safe.

I'm so selfish.

They need more. They need to run, to play, to explore. And I don't saddle myself with the worry, although it's always there - beating as steadily as my heart. I push and I pull. I give and I take. I love and I loathe at times, the behaviors, the tension, the "she touched me!" not the children themselves.

I cannot pinpoint the very moment. Some women can. They say that the second they found out they were carrying their first child, they felt like a mother. Some say it happened the moment they first laid eyes on their child. Some say it came later, after the stress of a newborn and adjustment to a life centering around said newborn calmed down a bit. Some say it was even later than that - but a pinpoint nonetheless. I think I've always felt like a mom. I've always mothered. I've never pictured myself any other way. No pinpoint.

And after a period of waning, after I kid with my husband that I'll check into a hotel just to get a moments peace, after I recognize the deep breaths I'm forcing myself to take to calm down, then comes that time. That place that exists in the in between. In between the push and the pull. In between the love and the loathe. There, in between, is someplace, some middle ground, some common area where we all exist, mothers, where we know exactly where we are and exactly where we want to be.

The center.

The mother.

*Reposted and edited from 2010, but still very relevant today

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some wise person once told me that, as soon as I learned you were coming, I would never be truly alone again.

I carried you with me everywhere and after your birth yes, I DID feel that mother thing.

You articulate it so much better than I.
Thank you, mi hija.