Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the beat goes on

While I didn't do much posting this summer, I DID manage to do some writing. With the help of a book by Natalie Goldberg titled Old Friend From Far Away, I began doing writing practice a few days a week. I had hoped to post some of them, but never found the time. But now that the kids are back to bed at 8:00 (HALLELUIA!!!), I hope to share a few of them with you. The prompt for this one was "I remember..." I thought it fit well with the back to school theme, so I finished it along that vein...

I remember when I was at the center, not around the circumference. Eyes six inches from my own, searching, seeking, finding. I remember when only I could satisfy, only I could calm, only I could delight. I remember the days when Momma was everything—the mender of boo-boos, the singer of lullabies, the holder of hands, the keeper of secrets, the receiver of kisses. And I remember the fullness of my heart mixed with the sadness of knowing that which every mother knows. This will not last. This will not last. This will not last. With every heartbeat, I’ve tried to remember. Be here. Be here now. This will not last.

Some mothers accept this with ease—the natural rhythms of life flow through their days and they are always in step with its beat. I, on the other hand, seem continually lost in the music, swaying off-tempo, hoping the song won’t come to an end. Long known for overstaying my welcome, I still struggle with letting go and knowing when to make my exit.

My daughter is nine now, and I am moving to the periphery. I try to accept it with a smile, encouraging her independence with no small amount of fear brewing within. But my smile is strained—not the full, teethy grin of happiness but the forced pull of the cheeks upward to reassure her, and everyone else, that I am okay with this.

But I am not.

My son, my baby, is five, and I am no longer the center of his days. I share him with a delightful woman named “Mrs. Smith,” splitting my precious time with him between us. She is wonderful, but I share him, nonetheless. I do not like to share. Just ask my husband. Just ask my children. I try to share, but it is compulsory at best, insincere and begrudging at worst. And it makes me grumpy, to boot. I am not okay with this.

I remember my training. I remember the years of childhood development classes and experience working with children and families. I remember my own struggle toward independence. I know I must let go. I know I must let go well. But knowing and wanting to are two entirely different things, and the second comes much less easily than the first. (And the first doesn’t come easily in the first place.) I remember the advice to put our marriage first, because when the children are gone, we will only have each other. I remember thinking, “Well, DUH. Of course we’ll put our marriage first.” And I remember when I first recognized that my priorities had inadvertently shifted.

My children have become the center of my world, and I am slowly but surely moving out of the center of theirs. I must learn to be okay with this. I must. I will. It just isn’t going to happen tonight. Because tonight, as my children grow up before my eyes, you will find me thumbing through baby books, wondering where the years went, listening to the beat of my mother-heart…

Be here. Be here now. This will not last.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. I have an 18 year old daughter that graduated in May and wants to have a friend instead of a mother. I have been informed that "friends don't ask friends what time will they be home, where are they going and with whom, etc, etc." I have struggled all Summer with how to let go of the mothering, but still be the mother, if that makes any sense at all. It's heartbreaking to me to not be able to have all those little things I had at one time when my children were little and I was the center of their world. But each day it gets a little easier and I find that I truly like my daughter and I can learn to share her with other people because in the end, I am still her mother.

Julie Morrison said...

Just beautiful. It's always inspiring to read your latest.
Even when we reach 17 the ebb and flow changes to a different beach...

lorie said...

Thanks, Juls.

I totally get the "let go of the mothering but still be the mother" comment. It is such a fine line already, and gets more and more fine the farther along we progress. Isn't that, after all, what many of us deal with when it comes to our own mothers? We want them to see us as competent adults, yet we want THEM to be the adult when we weary of the role or become uncertain. Remembering this gives me perspective when dealing with my own daughter...