Sunday, 10 May 2015

Weaving myself into a Mother

I wrote this as a contest entry and it did not win. That's ok. I wrote it for me anyways. So onto the blog it goes.

There is an Indian proverb “The moment the child is born, the mother is also born.” That phrase resonated with me more than any of the others I've heard on the subject. How are we supposed to take these helpless, precious little creatures and weave them into happy, independent, and complete beings when we've just had to become a whole new person ourselves? And there’s no growth curve, it’s just BANG! Someone hands you this new life, fresh from your body or adopted from someone else’s and says “Congratulations Mommy.” For me, it was the happiest and scariest day of my whole life.

Thinking back, I was deliriously happy but very confused about the kind of Mother I would be, could be, or should be. That’s when I felt the first tug on that invisible thread pulling me back to my own childhood. I have always been close to my mother and am so very lucky to have her in my life. I had never felt more connected to her before, nor more in awe. It was as if I had suddenly stepped through the looking glass and could now see a glimpse of the world through her eyes. All those little wisdoms she had tried to pass on before were suddenly translated into ‘Aha!’ This new, deconstructed woman I had just become was so unexpectedly open to hearing it all. I became aware of all the other threads connecting me to other Mother figures, and Mothering Mentors in my life (some here, some gone, some only part of an oral history from my family’s past) grounding me in this work of motherhood too. In those first days of Motherhood all this happened intangibly, yet I began to stitch together myself into a Mother while weaving a bond with my son at the same time. I have anchored him to me through a sort of invisible umbilical because I am, simply, his Mother. I can feel that bond as physically as I feel my smile or heart, and although creating the bond with my second son was different it is just as strong.

The years while they were young felt very hard at times, and I made so many mistakes but my Mother, and all those Mothering threads I am tethered to, kept reassuring me and filling me with innate truths. “Let them see you angry. People get angry.” “Your children shouldn’t think you’re perfect.” “It’s supposed to be that colour.” “He didn’t invent that, you know.” “No one even notices the mess.” “Don’t worry, he won’t go to college in diapers.” “No, he’s not going to die.” “Don’t wish your time away.” So I tried to remember to stop waiting for the ‘hard part’ to be over and take enjoyment as it came, because something in those Mothering threads told me that there was no ‘easy part’ coming.

Now my boys are 12 and 9 years old respectively. I am learning, slowly, that I now have to start cutting the threads of their umbilicals. Knowing which strands to cut, and when, is difficult and fraught with misstep and worry; so much worry. Helping them take steps into responsibility, independence, and self-sufficiency is full of so much drama and plentiful assertions of: “you’re the worst Mom ever!”. I suspect 'giving birth' to kind, peaceful, happy men will be as painful as delivering them into the world as babies. I feel the ache of every cut thread and worry the ones I’ll leave intact won’t be strong enough to hold.

My Mother always says “healthy birds leave the nest.” I don’t know what that means as much as I feel what that means. So I try to weave that wisdom into every day and into every thread I let loose between my sons and myself. If I don’t mess it up too badly, I think they will fly.

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