Sunday, March 11, 2007

On Becoming a Mother

How can I describe, within a few short lines, what is means to become a mother — the first time I looked in her face, dark eyes seeking, the open mouth fluttering like a birds. Who is this person? This small creature burrowing into me.

What took me by surprise was the sense of loss. No one talks of this, how from the moment of birth separation becomes a painful and continual process. The cord is cut, my body torn and in agony, and still, and still I feel the emptiness. She is leaving, already she is leaving.

By instinct, my arms learn to curve round her body, to fit perfectly. An extension of myself, the borders of our skin blend, and I finger the soft flesh of her earlobe. I do not want this leaving, and she cries as if in protest. I know that one day she will tie her own shoes, attend school, bring home a boyfriend. In time she will understand what those before her have felt. She will gain knowledge of transience, the orange and red dappled brightness of an autumn leaf turning grey. How the years suddenly fall away, so many minutes in a day lost or unaccounted for.

What we all seek is the same — an anchor of skin, the rhythmic sound of a steady beat when tides crash in, the right word to manifest itself when called upon. My hope is that she will find these things. That she’ll learn to value the hidden grace found in the everyday, and when contrary desires threaten to break, she will not be stunned by the paradox, but learn by instinct to bend.

May my love carry her through, as the love of my own parents has held me steadfast. Dear father, dear mother, now I understand, now I understand.