To be perfectly frank, I had deep personal issues with Mothers Day a long time before giving birth to my own firstborn in 2004. It’s something I’ve been practicing and trying to embrace in recent years (in my family’s own way) and now, I can do it with my child with free abandon. It’s taken years.
People have begun to share their first ever Mothers Day photos. And their first photos as new mothers.
So here is mine:
I had never seen anyone more exquisite and delicate before seeing Ellanor. She was wrapped in the feather-soft cloud of Somewhere Else. She never lost the magic of where we come from, in the In-between. She was born with it, and she died with it. But she showed it to me and forever impressed upon me the importance of relishing Life and embracing Death. It is all a part of all of us. We know this. I’m not afraid of it. I just wish it didn’t have to happen to so many of us before we’re ready! Impossible…
My next “brand new mother” photo captures a look on my face that is full of pain, confusion and terror. So I won’t show it. We weren’t sure what was happening to our little Lolly, only that we didn’t hear her cry and that she looked pasty grey upon delivery – worse than her premie sister, in fact. I’m not so sure I’m all too excited that Steve got the photo of my face. But it does tell a story.
So here’s a more pleasant one from a few hours later instead:
I’m of the firm belief that mothers are not made from the act of giving birth. I was technically a mother at the point of giving birth to Ellanor. And yet, I know I was a mother before she made an appearance. I considered myself a “real” mother – in the eyes of society, that is – the moment she reached beyond the medically-termed point of “viability”. How cold and harsh; you’re a mother only once your baby (or babies) has passed the gestational age where they give you a birth certificate. That’s 20 weeks to you and me (in this country, at present). I didn’t need either of those photos to tell me I was already mother. I was born a mother. I came out nurturing, for Pete’s sake. Over the years, I’ve just learned to reserve it for the truly needy.
I ponder the animal kingdom quite a bit when I think about “mothers”. Look at how the sea turtle comes up to the beach, lays her eggs and then leaves them to the elements of the sun, the moon, the sea. She does her part and returns to the water to ensure her own chance at longevity, nature takes care of the rest. Instinctively, those little hatchlings know how to make it and where to head. Some will fall prey to hungry predators. Others will be too sick to survive. But each one of them knows how to get back to what will nurture them.
When I was in my years of striving for a child with Steve, I knew that I had the heart of a mother in me already. There were many years of healing to go through, to soothe my heart and gather my strength, and it has taken to the eve of the LGBB’s seventh birthday before I’ve been ready.
I was so confused when child bearing eluded us, for I knew in my depths that I was supposed to have children all around me. Even before we had Lolly, we discussed foster care. It was too hard. We shelved it. Losing Ella had muddied the waters too much. But I still wondered if my future was meant to involve children. Somehow.
The survival instinct is strong in me, thanks to a childhood that had to be survived more than enjoyed. The passion and determination to ensure a child feels heard and counted and loved… that is my utmost drive. I’ve been waiting patiently, often not even thinking about it for months on end, to feel strong enough to take on the task – knowing that when I give, I give my all. Even the passionate need to balance their approach; our history makes me a good candidate but I’ve had to put a lot of time into learning how to carefully cauterize my own wounds now that they have cleared so that they are not reopened (or hardened). The decade of practice and study into ways of self-nurturing and being in service to the All of this Earth led me to realise that what the world needs from me and Steve is not more of our own biological children. Anyway, I gave away that notion several years ago, saying goodbye to the fourteenth tiny life to leave my body in 2010.
Besides, there are so many other children the world needs, right now – for they are already here – it’s just that sometimes, the way each child’s unique story unfolds, the care and nurture falls away for many and varied reasons. Like the turtle returning to the water for its own survival.
There is so much hope, and such brave and exciting, beautiful potential in these young people. They have to deal with things, huge things, that most of our children have no concept of. I am well familiar with the pull of the impossible on the heart and all the ways life seems to show no mercy.
We are ready to do this. I, personally, HAVE to do this. The papers are signed.