Monday, December 16, 2013

"Some people were born to sit by a river. Some get struck by lightning. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people dance."

Oh, this mothering thing.  So much of it is so unglamorous.  Why, just tonight, my little one slapped me in the face, flicked a booger on me, and dripped juice in my hair.  All within 10 minutes.  But in that same 10 minutes, he also hugged his arms around my neck, trying to comfort himself into sleep as he burrowed his head into his pillow, and I, caught in his sudden embrace, my neck and body lying in awkward, crooked angles, wrapped one arm around his little body and curled the other underneath his upturned bum.

I savored the sweetness of that moment... for the five seconds it lasted, until he decided there was no comfort for him, even in the entanglement of his mother's body, and cried (screamed!) for a bottle.  (Yes, my 18 month old still has a bottle at naptime and bedtime.  And my four year old isn't potty trained.  Go ahead.  Judge me hard.)

Then, my mind thought about how my children have, once again, gone to bed at too-late an hour, and with unbrushed teeth to boot.  Restless thoughts that made me restless enough not to wait for the subtle twitches of sleep to shake my baby's legs.  And now, here I sit, in the quiet of a post-bedtime house, surveying the unspeakable chaos and wondering if all homes inhabited by young children look like Hurricane Andrew just rolled through them, or if it's just mine.

My mind makes mental lists of things I need to add to the grocery list, of things I need to update in my calendar, of things I need to clean tomorrow (ground up peppermint cookie behind the couch?  check!).  The madness of this chaos is driving me to clean!  A good enough alternative to a play date cancelled on account of pre-Christmas conjunctivitis, I suppose.  Besides, I need to wash the kids' bedding because there was that one morning last week that A woke up soaked on his front and I'm not quite sure what else got a dose of wetness that morning.  And then there was that moment before my mom came over for dinner on Saturday when I wondered if she would look around my house and secretly ask herself when, precisely, it was that I became a filthy slob.  I make another mental note to rally my energy early, in the hope that I might be able to actually make a dent in the mess, even as new ones are being made by my living, breathing natural disasters.

As the anxiety of it all starts to mount in my chest, I take a breath and I think back to Sunday.  Sunday was a hard day for me.  I hadn't felt the baby move in over a day.  I was looking at all the sweet new babies and feeling sad and scared about things to come.  Then, in Sunday school we read over The Proclamation, and it helped me remember that this little spirit that is coming to us is definitively who she is, and has been for all eternity, and her mortal body is a part of that identity, but there is so much more.

I thought on this for a while.  Then, while in our women's meeting, something very strange happened.  It was as if I had just awoken from a strange dream.  Suddenly, I was like "Oh my gosh, I'm a mother!  I have two little boys! How did that happen?!?"  It was a very amusing little quandary, because it's not like I found them on my doorstep yesterday.

As I thought over why I was suddenly so rattled, it occurred to me that day to day (to day to's endless!), so much of this mothering thing is what I DO.  It's the mental lists.  It's the chaos.  It's worrying over fiber intake and how to wean kids off bottles.  It's not getting worked up over not being able to control another person's bodily functions.  It's the knowing precisely when to hand over a box of raisins to buy a few moments of quiet at a critical time.  It's trying not to yell (and trying and trying and trying).  It's feeling mother-guilt.  It's wondering if today's Everything was enough.

On Sunday, I awoke anew to the realization that being a mother is what I AM; to the understanding that, for me, the mother-spirit within me lay dormant and could only find full expression by, in fact, physically and emotionally becoming a mother.  For some, that mother-spirit manifests itself so completely in them that, mother or not, it radiates from who they are.  For me, it lay dormant until the spark of bringing forth a person into this world started an ember ablaze, slowly building enough for it to really catch fire.  And perhaps yesterday, I finally caught fire.  Or maybe, more likely, this mother-spirit is an eternal flame that, like any flame, grows hotter the closer you stand to its center.  Maybe I finally found my center.

This morning, as I dressed my children, I kissed one's belly, another's feet.  Bodies from my body.  That these bodies were formed in my body is a phenomenon that has, and might forever be, too large for me to really, truly grasp.  Even as I grow another body, I am quite literally stunned by the process of it all.  And, really, no less stunned once they are brought forth into this world. 

A yoga teacher once told me that "Namaste" means "the divine in me bows to the divine in you".  If that's not a perfect description of this mother-spirit, of its divinity, of its infinity, of its absolute surrender to these child-spirits given to us, then I don't know how else to say it.

The wish of my mother-heart, of my mother-spirit, tonight is that whatever is divine in me will always bow to the divine in my children.  And that this adoration, this spiritual regard for one another, will expand outward from who I am into what I do.

Then maybe, just maybe, my daily Everything, the Am and the Do together in an unbroken circle, will be complete.

[Title quote is from "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"]

1 comment:

Danielle said...

What a wonderful post! And I totally relate to so much-- from the unbrushed teeth and Hurricane Andrew to the pee-soaked bedding and pre-Christmas conjunctivitis. (for reals!) And I've had similar moments when I'm filled with wonder at the fact that I have created little human beings. Little people with their own thoughts and ideas and opinions. It's crazy to think about, but I'm so grateful for it. Even with all the chaos and clutter and the fact that I have not slept through the night in YEARS, I wouldn't change it for anything!

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