Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Mothering, what does it mean mothering? 

To be a mother is the most important unselfish act a woman can do.  It is the most terrifying, fear ridden, heart stopping, nail biting, demanding, sleepless journey.  It is the most absorbing, life-altering, soul searching, moving, love fest ever.

I am in transition.  Like in giving birth I feel I am in transition.  I thought when I gave birth that stage was unyeilding and overwhelming but now in my fifties this transition seems to put me in that state of confusion and fear of going forward.  I can't stop going forward to my next stage of being a woman, I have to go with confidence knowing that on the other side of this step will be a calm or an acceptance of my new stage in life.  The contractions of my mothering now is to allow myself to let my grown children be.  To understand that they are no longer in need of my protection like when they were children.  They need to make the mistakes that I tried to shield them from because I knew what the outcome would be.  No, now I must watch their highs in life and their lows.  I must be constant and supportive.  I must learn to hold my tongue yet hold my arms open and let them discover their own journey in life.  If I fight this, I can feel the beat in my heart thump faster and fear sets in.  The mother warning lights begin to flash.  My arms, my wings want to gather and hold them though I know this to be unwise.  Did I not teach my children while young, of life?  Did I not share daily as we played, read, lived what to understand of life they might encounter?  Hold my hand while we cross the street, careful how high you climb because you will need to climb down without falling but I am here to catch you if you do fall, knives are sharp and scissors are too. 

In giving birth to my babies, that stage of transition was what appeared to be an insurmountable wave that kept getting higher and higher.  Each contraction brought more instability and undermined my true faith in giving birth.   Just when I felt I couldn't go on, that I couldn't let my body do what it knew how to because I thought it was too hard, too painful, it was "too" everything, the shift came.  The calm of being at last over the wave, into the calm, brought back to the shore.  The next wave I knew I could handle because my babes tiny sphere of their crowning heads came to view and played with my heartstrings as they would appear and disappear, each contraction more closer to my arms, to my sense of smell and taste.  With a whoosh their emergence to welcome cries and a swift flow to my open arms.  That first kiss sealed our bond.  While their umbilical cord was cut and ceased to nourish them, my breasts inside called out for my mother's milk to flow.  That cry of a babe to begin the let down reflex, the tingle in my breasts,  where we once again were held together, no longer in utero, but our skin touching linking us forever.  I became the mother I was born to be.  As in love and fiercely protective as one could be.

Yet I had to let go of the babes.  I had to let them test their wings though it was hard.  My invisible hand and arm stretched out to hold on but I couldn't let them see that I wanted so much to hold them.  I wanted to sing my lullabies and rock them to and fro, the rhythm of the rocker that would became the beat of our hearts.  I had to let go with a smile and trusting knowledge that they could and would handle whatever obstacle that came to them.  My Love and I sometimes held each other with tears trickling down from our eyes to fall on our bed, the bed they were conceived upon, as we soothed ourselves knowing that those years of parenting were a gift that was of unimaginable measure.  Whatever would be, we all would ride the swells of waves in storm and calm.  

Now I am facing the ascension of age.  I find myself confused at times in observation of my relationship with my mother.  The woman who now openly talks of loving me in her limited way.  The woman who did not do this with conviction or my comprehension of feeling this.  I find myself mothering her.  How can this be?  It happens so naturally to do.  As though automatically my inner mothering emotion to care comes forth.  To be calming, gentle, loving to this failing woman, my mom.  The rise of fear to know that I am not on the threshold of youth but on the threshold of elderhood does not escape me.  I am not willing to step over yet to see the possibility of my being like my mother.  I do not want this.   And so I am thrust with transitional trepidation.  I fear to see her die, I fear to see the continuing progression of aging though I know I should not be.  It is all a part of that circle of life.  I cannot stop this circle but only ride it like the pangs of labor.  Not to always think of the difficult times but think of the blithesome times.  Perhaps not to even try to define this time but let it be.

My children, my darling children whom I adore, treasure, I only ask your patience to me while I take baby steps right now.  I am in no hurry as I was to see you learn to roll over, sit up, to walk then run.  I am in no hurry whatsoever.  Let me take my time and breathe in the wonders I let escape my view before.  Let me run my fingers, slowly over the petals of a rose, so soft like the feel of your baby skin so long ago.  Let me linger over a walk in the woods, to inhale the denseness of the wood there.  Watch the way the light falls between the limbs and leaves, to see the shadow play.  It is only now that I at last see such beauty with it's purity.  Before I would watch and listen as you each would run over the padded forest floor and hear your voices echo off the trees.  Now let me be.  Share this time with me.  All I ask is for you to hold my hand, let me feel your presence beside me, let me grow up because I am still doing this just as you are.  

Let me birth this woman inside me.


Elizabeth said...

You always write so movingly and lovingly about mothering, and this piece is as well. I will think about it for a long time --

And that photo at top is gorgeous --

Megan Frasheski said...

yes. i love u. for i am right behind. we are in this together, you leading the way. i am humbled by what we have lived and what we have yet to live. luckily we have each other.

Ms. Moon said...

Ellen, I know exactly what you are saying here and you have said it perfectly. It's like you've peered inside the chambers of my heart and written the words printed there.

Phoenix Rising said...

"It is only now that I at last see such beauty..."

Beautifully written.

Ellen said...

Elizabeth....thank you for your words..and yes I love mothering. Oh I love the old photo from the front porch of that old home...

Megan...I love you dear..thank you for following along and I am grateful I have my three daughters to share women thoughts. Who better to receive this?

Mary....We have kindred thoughts you and I...

Phoenix Rising....thank you..


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