Oh, I sigh…as I remember an encounter I had with another mother in my community. She looked widely at my rounded form spying the sticky hands of a small soul peeking through the fluttering hem of fabric; clinging to my leg, his sweet face full of transition peering up at her. She looked at me with pity. I shuddered somewhere deep inside and bristled at her open regard. How sad I thought it was that she pitied me. I was indignant…oh, I know what I’m in for…and I know it will be rough, but I’ll have doubled the love that I am privileged to hold. In truth, somewhere deep inside me I think I slipped on some sort of ugly veil of superiority…and I pitied her in response. But, now, her face floats to the surface of my pooling memories. I hear her love. It’s loud enough that I am shamed that I did not know what she was saying then. I can now translate her pity…into the knowledge of how laborious it is to cradle this heavy treasure. With all of this love, this need, this raw part of me…slivers of my own soul living, breathing, sighing apart from me; all of this that is capable of being lost. It can wreck us; this clawing anxiety. If we give it hold. At times I am a slave to its’ driving madness. Her eyes may have read pity, but her heart held me in an embrace…that I can see now was only communicating hope.
That she, with wisdom in her bosom, was beating her chest in the heritage of motherhood saying,
“Oh, mother…you will be ruined by all of that love, and you will never be the same. You will agitate the surface of the water, sure that you are in peril of drowning. But, you will not. You will not. You will flounder; frantic, flailing, wailing for a Savior. You’ll scream silently in the small moments where you think you will be trapped forever; sure you’ll shatter and break. But, there you’ll find yourself whole. Hush, sweet soul. Can you hear it? That rumbling just under the surface that quakes under your bare feet is starting to move you…it’s a churning sea. It’s an echo repeating; reaching you. All of the voices that have gone before…the mothers that have mothered all of the minutes before you were spoken into being. All of the fathers that have fathered the hours before you were anointed with your new name. Hear the voice of the one who created you for this.”
All of their strength gathered into bushels; all shouldering the combined love of community…now spills into my heart. Community. We were made for each other. She knew I’d wake one day to find myself new; a soul open to the power of release; acceptance…which I find is really just broken loveliness. There is a tremulous selflessness in motherhood that can recognize imperceptible, holy shifts in our souls as we learn to mother. We mistake that from the outside it looks like we’re drowning, when really, we’re dancing. We create the movement of mothering…and interpret it in a way only we can. It’s the dance our children will teach and modify in their own beautiful ways for the generations after us. My own dance is laced with the lovely steps that my own mother taught me.
It is crouching there...in the aching reach of need. Like millions of fern frond tendrils reaching out and tightening around me; their mother. And, truly...all I'm thinking is, "God...am I really capable of carrying all of this? Do I seriously possess the internal strength to be the one that holds their hope, soothes their fears, and drives their minds to rationalize their anxiety while mine yet throbs and screams somewhere lost in my brain? Somewhere deep in my fidgety feet are the unsure, clumsy roots of my soul, grappling and shooting into the ground beneath me. Wishing; praying to gain traction. And somewhere unknown, I must have finally thrown my arms open to it all; releasing my grip. May it gather peace in a vacuum of acceptance.
The acceptance that there can be darkness in such a role; to cradle that darkness so I can learn its' inanimate need. Meet its demands by deciphering its’ cries. To remain so rigid in fright from that darkness only entraps me to operating in fractions; and then my wholeness whimpers; tucked away in hiding.
So, I throw up my arms. I beat my chest and admit that I feel that I am unfit; sinking. The ground splits beneath me. My doubt slips like oil through the cracks. I whisper to the walls that hold us within them; home…saying, “I will fight. I will fight to break through the anxiety that I am not good enough. I will be here, all here.”
I accept this stage…full of tantrums and food thrown at the walls and perpetually dirty floors…floorboards sticky and stained with the forgotten disappearance of yesterday’s lunch. This nap forfeiting, negotiating, redirecting madness from dawn to dusk. Oh, this purgatory of arrested joy that I’ll fight to steal back…gather the moments into my arms and sift through the pain, the impatience, the regret, and the shimmering love, love, love. I’ll hang joy up on the wall as a signpost…to look to when I cannot muster it within myself.
I accept these days…these monotonous days. These melting days that sour in our bellies as memories of the moments we’ll never get in our arms again. And, I promise on the burning sunset that I’ll do better tomorrow.
Here I hold acceptance to my breast. Because I believe it bestows upon me the heaven of transformation by a Holy God. And, I willfully enter into this sacred time with a new mind.
By Village Journalist: Heather Gemmer @thegemmers