dear bowie :: 13 months ::
I wonder if you will have a baby someday. Oh, how I will want to rescue you from any pain such as pregnancies complications or labor or the general pain of being a human. Pain is good, it teaches us (if we have the courage and have developed the ears to listen) to discover, to seek out what we could learn of ourselves through it.
When I professed Christianity, I believed that all trials and tribulations are given to us by God to purify us, to make us holy, to teach us. He would keep teaching us and teaching us through these trials until we finally turned from vice and relinquished our sinful will to His perfect plan. I suppose the philosophy is somewhat similar to what I have described above, except for a key difference for me. Pain has no origin, it simply a byproduct of biology. It doesn't mean anything other than the meaning we ascribe to it. It is necessary to bring forth life, both literally and figuratively. Just like the birth of our solar system came from the explosion of a star (don't quote me on that fact, ask your Father). Additionally, I don't believe pain in itself has a purpose. It just is. But we can infuse it with meaning if we allow ourselves to see the benefit, the life, the new growth, coming forth from tedious and unbearably painful labor.
Sometimes, a lot recently, I look into the depths of your face and feel so terrified and so sad. I'm sad because suddenly you are changed from my baby, most likely my only baby, and I feel that I somehow missed this last year even though I was there. I was lost in pain and fatigue and adjustments. The only way I feel a grasp on the year is through, well...ART...of course. Photography and writing. I need these desperately as handles to hold the fleeting moments. I'm scared because each day of your life, you separate from me and discover your own life - which I am here only to facilitate. Suddenly you are a teenager and hating authority. Then you are driving away to your first year at college. Then you move out permanently, then you travel, marry (or not). Then you stop talking to me. I'm scared because I remember before I knew my own mother was a person and was mean or rude or hurtful to her. I think about the time after discovering she was a person and all the analysis, criticism...remembering all too easily and flippantly her mistakes. I will very shortly be treated to this same mother/daughter scrutinization, and I am scared of what you'll find that you simply don't like. I don't want to be under your microscope, but I don't think I can avoid it. It's all fatalistic, I suppose...but fears always are. And to be fair to me, I am a young mother. Perhaps I will maturate in these views, but for now...I feel my heart quicken with fear.
For now, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction when you look to me for comfort from a nasty fall or cling to my knees for food I prepare you. I search your eyes for preference or attachment and come up short, which means (of course) that I "did it" wrong since you seem to prefer me less and less. But what do I truly want for you? To want and need me? Is that the goal? No. Is it to want and need only yourself? Not exactly.
My supreme desire is that you will know the safety net of me under your trapeze-act of life. Knowing it as you "know" how to breath, eat, and pump blood throughout your body. I want you to proceed with life in deep security. My being there to catch you requires nothing of you, including your preference or approval. A gorgeous, epic goal, no?
But I fear for me. I will say it. I'm selfish with my heart. I like to protect it, and your existence threatens to break it daily. I worry for my heart. What if you never acknowledge my tremendous sacrifices, will my heart break? I fear I cannot bear up under the thanklessness of motherhood. I proceed with these years with a selfish hope that one day all I've done for you will hit you hard and you will call me and weep with gratitude. Or perhaps more that the gratitude buoys your heart enough to pour into your own relationships...that you, unlike me, will arrive to others in abundance (not in a self-defeating deficit) of a love that knows, a love that is enough, a love that changes the very nature, meaning, and purpose of pain.