A Mother’s Love
Posted on May 10, 2015
Seven years ago I celebrated Mother’s Day for the first time. Cradling my swaddled baby I just knew that this tiny little human had tunneled down to the very depths of my heart and soul irrevocably changing me.
I finally was a mother after 9 months, well, actually after 2 years, as I had miscarried the year before her conception. Feeling the loss of a life inside left me eviscerated. The ache was so deep I wondered if I’d ever recover or be a mother. It was never a childhood dream. While I played house with friends and had my own Cabbage Patch doll, Sassoo Sissy, it wasn’t something I had grown up believing as a truth I wanted to seek inside me.
On May 8th 2008, I experienced the depth of life that I never knew existed. I felt eternity flash in the moment she was placed on my chest and that eviscerated woman was awakened as my eyes filled with tears and my heart expanded encompassing the universe. Nothing prepared me but it marked my surrender to the uncertainty in days to come, along with resonance that we’d get where we needed to be, forever shifted from a mother’s love.
A few years back, while eating bacon tacos at a favorite brunch spot of mine, one of the new servers shared with me that his girlfriend was 5 months pregnant. He shared this after hearing me chat with another patron who frequents the place about my daughter and switching pre-schools as her dad and I were trying to find the right fit. I told her of the difficulty and exhaustion in figuring this transition out but that it all finally fell into place. The next few moments seemed to stand still as I can remember this very clearly, perhaps because of the honesty that passed between a stranger and I.
“How do you prepare to be a parent?” he asked me.
“You can’t.” I replied holding eye contact so he knew I wasn’t bullshitting him.
At first he looked shocked, as I had heard all the other customers give him advice about sleeping, eating, books to read, philosophies about raising kids etc. I understand this, we want to share what we’ve learned, what worked and didn’t work for us in our life, in our family. Except we forget we are all different, each circumstance filled with variables and people that can’t be reconstructed except between the originals. We share in the fundamental needs of love, food and shelter. But how that translates and fits into one’s life is as unique as a snowflake.
I watched as he let this settle, confusion passing like clouds rolling on the horizon of his eyes then the clearing of sky-blue clarity as he realized the liberation in what I said. Nothing to memorize, nothing to read or to do list to accomplish prior to the arrival of his baby; sure you can learn the 5 S’s in soothing a crying child, the differences between co-sleeping and self-soothing, the cry it out method or attachment parenting, bottle-fed versus the breast. All are methods, and often contradictory with each other, delineated by those going before, but none will truly reflect the path you end up foraging with your child.
“Don’t get me wrong. I did all the things I thought I needed to; I created a nest for my little one, decorated a nursery careful to have crib bumpers to protect her from the bars, bought dozens of white organic onsies, found the most expensive baby stroller to ensure she rode in style sans a bumpy ride, filled her bookshelf with dozens of books containing brightly colored pages and lively stories to help foster reading, flash cards of every-day objects to sharpen her mind, practiced sign language to cultivate communication, and bought bottles that minimize air entering her digestive tract with the hope to minimize her discomfort from the breast milk I pumped, read different philosophies about child rearing… This list could go on, but none of this is truly needed in the capacity we’re sold as “preparation”. Ditto for pages chronicling milestones as your kid will get where he/she needs to be on her timeline. Keeping to a timeline will only bring stress. Love, food and shelter are the essential needs. Prepare in the art of letting go of thinking you’ll be prepared and then you’ll be good to go,” I further shared.
“Thank you,” he said while smiling, “I feel like I finally got an honest answer. I’ve been stressing this as I wasn’t ready, we weren’t ready, but it happened and it’s time for me to become a man, to be a dad.”
“Well, that will happen whether you’re ready or not and even if you think you are, you’ll realize that having a child will change you regardless of preparation. As you look back you’ll realize those shifts are the ones needed, not the changes one makes in the anticipation of what is to come, but the shifting of inner landscapes that come from living through it.”
Life prepares you for where you are to go and who you are to be.
Motherhood [parenthood] is equal parts confidence in your stride as it is winging it. It’s letting go of where you think you need to be and being open to showing up where life asks you to be and become.
This shift in self doesn’t only come from being a mother [parent], nor is this depth of love felt only between parent and child. It’s the recognition of something greater than yourself and that love is the driving force of the universe bringing us all together as one big living breathing cosmic body as we are all sons and daughters. It’s realizing that you may be one of many but you’re part of the whole, contributing to the full in the beauty of being you. It’s the wonder you feel when you look to the starry sky and realize you’re a part of this universe just as the universe is in you. It’s the breath taken away when you realize how deep sadness and grief reside along with love and joy- the well-spring of being that you can tap into spurring growth and change when you allow your life to flux and flow.
My daughter just turned 7. No longer swaddled like a burrito she wears clothing of her choice. Her toothy grin captures my heart in a way none other could. I see a part of myself in her. I remember feeling her arms and legs as they moved inside my belly, the same arms that like to beat drum sticks similar to her father, similar to my father. I see my mother’s smile and my sisters’ expressions reflected back. Her bright blue eyes reminiscent of my grandmother Elizabeth’s eyes and the glint in them akin to the one I had as a child… the one I still do from time-to-time.
This body of life isn’t bullshit but the simple fact that we are all part of this web of life. You and I are part of the here and now. We bring with us the culmination of ages that birthed us, that birthed what has come before, just as we are birthing our new selves, our children and the future found therein.
The more we can ground ourselves in our roots, our ancestry and human history all the while allowing the space for growth of our wings, our soul’s destined wingspan. And surrender to letting our mother’s love echo the self-love within, giving us the wind beneath our wings as we flux and flow into where we are to be. Oh the places and imparted graces you may find if you venture unafraid of leaving the past behind; opening up your heart and mind and allow such to encompass the universe. The one inside and out.
You can have roots and wings, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
A mother’s love guided me when I came into this world and echoed deep when I became a mother myself and that same love ushered new life into me the moment I birthed life in my daughter. You don’t prepare to love, you don’t learn how to love, you feel it and pass it on.
Happy Mother’s Day to you all, may you glow in the beauty you are in being a mother, may you love and be loved and pass it on.