Mothers on the Edge

I appreciated a real moment, one that resonated, while watching some reality TV this morning. I was relieved to see someone who had just given birth crying in exhaustion and apprehension, even amidst television cameras. Not to leave anyone guessing, it was Little Women LA: Terra’s Little Family. I am not a little person, but I remember feeling far less than half my size in the face of bringing either of my babies home after giving birth. It’s not just the sleep deprivation and inability to brush your teeth, it is about trying with all of your might to sustain someone fragile. Having a baby and caring for children is really about walking the line between life and death when you break it down. I used to think of parenthood in lesser terms before I experienced it, figuring that something almost everyone seemed to do must be commonplace and not run so deep. I was wrong. It is also wrong to think that you are excluded from the depths of motherhood if you are not a mother, because the line between disincarnate/incarnate is what wakes us all up in the morning. We have all been born into this temporary life. A mother is someone who has sacrificed certain things in order to greet someone crossing the edge to get here. As a bereaved mother, since I must live in two worlds, I think such thoughts all of the time. Forgive me if I ever bring these kinds of things up when it seems inappropriate.

So Mother’s Day is coming. I have been refreshing my memory about the history of the holiday in the United States by reading about Julia Ward Howe (who lost a son), Anna Jarvis and Anna’s mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis (who buried eight of her twelve children). This is a holiday rooted in feminism, pacifism and advocacy for public health and the public good. I prefer to celebrate it as such rather than a greeting card purchasing holiday which encourages facades of an impossible perfection which serve no one. If you love the mothers in your life (including and especially meaning yourself), it is a good day to really think about how hard it is to be bombarded with expectations to do impossible things which are not important at all. Remind them to say no when they want to, to appreciate how much they give without looking for flaws. And if the mothers in your life are doing more than their share of the dishes, cooking and laundry (they are) then change this. Not for a day, for always. If they are carrying emotional burdens which are not theirs, help them let go. They do enough already.

This is something I wrote last summer, when I found my Susanna through the veil because I needed to. I am sharing it with the immense love I have for my daughter and my son. From different locations, they save my life every day.

There are two ways to walk past the salt marsh, one sidewalk by the road and one path closer to the bushes and the water. I was walking near the road just past the playground and saw the sun shining on a pretty bench near the inner path. I wanted my Sunshine to be on that bench, wanted it until I could see her. I doubted myself until she waved for me to come over. I stood in front of the bench and hugged her, her sweet arms around my neck. Picked her up and felt her joy. Her head pressed against my chest and filled my heart. The same head which rested there the day she slept in the baby sling while I bought the Celtic style beaded necklace on the street, with orange and green beads she ended up chewing off and possibly swallowing one of as she snuggled there on a day soon after. The same small head, but by now Sunshine is so much more. My best friend. She loves me, so deep enough to last past death and now she loves me all the more. I carry her with me but with no weight anymore. Take her everywhere, no more thought of my back hurting or my arms becoming weak. I wish I could take her to a palace full of spirit mediums, so everyone there could see me and hear me with my girl like they used to. If I can choose it, in heaven someday it will be like that, Sunshine and me at a beautiful ball, me in the golden dress I used to wear for our princess parties, Sunshine in a cloak of the love of a thousand hearts as big as the sun.

By trishfreer

Mother, writer, artist and teacher grappling with grief and loss.


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