When I became a mother I worried that I would pass on ‘the worst’ of me to my daughters. I wanted to come into motherhood clean. A fresh slate. New born like them.
But life and children and pretty well everything, doesn’t work that way. The new is built on what was learned from the old. Some good. Some not so good. Some not even wanted, though it seems to come into the new anyway.
And being a mother definitely doesn’t come with a rule book from our mothers and their mothers before them. It doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee that says, ‘Do these 10 things and you’ll never worry or fear or cry for your children. And if it doesn’t work in 25 years, here’s our moneyback guarantee. You can give your children back and we’ll give you back your tearless days and fearless nights and worry-free hopes and dreams…”
Nope, it definitely doesn’t work that way. Being a mother (a parent for that matter- but I’m a mother so use what fits best for me) is about worry and fear and tears. Oh sure, there’s the joy and the love and the sense of wonder at these miraculous beings who fill the world with such light, and promise. But there’s all the rest too.
Because, there’s always the worry and the fear. The tears. Oh yes. The tears. They fall like a rain in autumn. Full of questions… Will it or won’t it freeze? Will it or won’t it turn to snow? And full of premonitions and worries of winter yet to come. Will my child be safe crossing the street? Will they remember the love I feel for them after I lose my temper? Will they know they are miracles when I keep shutting off the light?
Being a mother means knowing the things about me I never wanted anyone else to see, or have, or know, could become part of these miraculous beings whom we love with every fibre of our beings and who are at risk of taking on these things we never intended or wanted for them to be share in.
Sometimes, I don’t even see what in me has become something in them I never wanted them to know or have or be until it’s too late. Until they say or do something and I wonder, where did they get that? Even when I know, they got it from me. And while I smile when I see them carrying what I think to be the best of me, I have had to learn to love the not so best in me through their eyes for to love them fully, I must love all of me, and all of my mother and all of my mother’s mothers before me.
Because being a mother is not a cake-walk, but it has been for me the greatest gift I’ve ever received. In becoming a mother, I have had to see what is not my best and learn to love myself as I am so that I can love my daughters in all their beauty, complexity, tears and fears, joys and failures, and let them go in Love to be their own true selves.
Perhaps it is that my youngest daughter is about to turn 33 or my grandson 4, or that I received a beautiful message from a stranger, a woman who is about to have her first child and who, after reading many of my posts, wrote to voice some of her fears for her unborn child… whatever the source of these thoughts, this poem is what appeared:
A Poem For My Daughters by Louise Gallagher I want them back those things I gave that I never meant to give you They weren't meant for you and never really worked for me to begin with I wanted more for you I wanted only the best without all the messy pieces. I wanted only beauty truth, love, happiness not those things you took that I didn't mean to give that keep holding you back from being you They were me those messy pieces I had to work through to get to be me and though some of them still are me they were never meant for you Please give them back and I promise you something I can't actually promise but really want to, if you give them back you'll be free to be you without the bits of me that don't fit well for either of us.