Songs about September already make me wince.
The red of the maple buds on the hillside catch in my chest.
It’s not even Solstice yet.
This must be what it is to grow old
To know the ending, inside
To feel the loss
embraced by the gift.
My husband took this photo of me when we were out at a cafe last summer which is a rare feat. Not the cafe, which is a regular feature of our weekends now that the kids are aging out of our lives, but the photo. He rarely thinks of photography and so we have albums filled with family photos relatively absent of my existence, except for the annual shot of me lighting the birthday cake for one of my boys.
“You look so pretty today,” he said, “Can I have your phone?”
I always believe him, but then I look in the mirror or at a photo and it’s just me. Nothing special. Or more often worse than I imagined or hoped for, like this one.
I really didn’t like this photo, and I still don’t like it, but you know what, I don’t mind it now like I did before, and it’s only been a year.
I take this as a good sign because typically it’s like a decade before I appreciate a photo that I really didn’t like at first.
On Mothers Day night, with both sons at home, I wake to the sound of my youngest vomiting in the toilet, and I realize that I have had a nightmare. “A dream about the Patriarchy,” my husband offers in the dark.
In the dream, it is daylight, and there is this charismatic man who I find attractive and then threatening as I watch Him weave his way through homes & classrooms & workplaces, alternatingly charming then murderous. Slitting throats, dividing families, orphaning children.
Each time I get wise to Him, I sense the great vulnerability of going against such cunning, and something else–I see how willing others are to oblige this power and destruction in blindness; and so I become absorbed with protecting myself whenever He appears, until I see Him follow a family into the loft over the Great Room, and doesn’t He kill the young father and then the mother, as their child toddles unprotected toward the open railing.
Terrified, I dash past a bureau and a hutch and sweep the child up into my arms, where she becomes an infant, and with little time to spare, I dangle her through the bars of the railing thinking I could drop her to safety if only someone would appear in the Great Room below.
And then I see him! My father! But although he hears my calls, he cannot see the child, even though I direct his attention toward her again and again.
I consider dropping the infant to the floor, but just then my youngest son enters the room, and seeing the dangling child, puts out his arms to catch Her.
I’ve experienced Motherhood–from desire to conception, to pregnancy (and miscarriage), to labor, to nursing & sick bed tending & to the never-ending-letting go–as a fierce initiator into the feminine mysteries–surrender and sovereignty and something else, equally potent: raw, messy, earthy wildness–all of which radically reshaped/reshapes my life–from the inside out.
I wouldn’t wish it on everyone.
I wish all those who wanted it would have it.
I wish those who didn’t wouldn’t.
Body, mind, spirit transformed.
Unimaginable from the other side.
Never, ever complete.
I bow to the mothers.
To the earth.
To the life givers before and after me.