TO A CHILD EMBRACING HIS MOTHER


Love thy mother, little one!
Kiss and clasp her neck again,
Hereafter she may have a son
Will kiss and clasp her neck in vain.
Love thy mother, little one!

Gaze upon her living eyes,
And mirror back her love for thee,
Hereafter thou mayst shudder sighs
To meet them when they cannot see.
Gaze upon her living eyes!

Press her lips the while they glow
With love that they have often told,
Hereafter thou mayst press in woe,
And kiss them till thine own are cold.
Press her lips the while they glow!

Oh, revere her raven hair!
Although it be not silver-gray;
Too early Death, led on by Care,
May snatch save one dear lock away.
Oh, revere her raven hair!

Pray for her at eve and morn,
That Heaven may long the stroke defer,
For thou mayst live the hour forlorn
When thou wilt ask to die with her.
Pray for her at eve and morn!

Thomas Hood (1799 - 1845)



Flowers...Flowers Everywhere

As I entered, I was greeted with pots of flowers arranged in rows, ready to entice the customers with their beauty. There were flowers ... flowers everywhere. And something welled up inside me for a moment. I was missing out on a special day, special because society made it so, that there had to be one day out of the entire year devoted entirely to mothers. But I wasn't a mother.

The desire to have a child, to conceive and carry that child within, and then give birth to that child, has occupied my mind on and off. It is another fantasy, something that was longed for but would not come true.

It is a fairy tale in my heart, the story told and re-told until I will one day tire of it.

It is a dream that I never thought that I would want. I never really saw myself as a mother. I don't think I ever really thought about it. And I don't think others saw me as maternal either. But I was younger then and so very inexperienced. Who knew that these feelings and aches would one day surface and never leave?

Who knew that something as simple as Mother's Day would create a hole within as I walked through the doors and was welcomed by a profusion of flowers. Who knew ...

Walking across a school field, I saw a little boy on his first day of school, looking undecided as he smiled uncertainly at me and made his way to the middle of the field. One or two school children were by themselves. A few were already in groups, talking away nineteen to the dozen. Whether it was the first day of school on the playground or in the classroom, or an adult's first day of work in a new office environment, it was never easy, was it. There would always be those who were by themselves and those already in groups. And we had to find a way to fit in somehow. My heart went out to that little boy. And I hoped he found his place.

It was a radio program in the morning and a little girl was on the air, answering a question in order to win a prize. She was in the car with her mother. The conversation between the girl and the deejay caught my attention because the girl sounded as if she enjoyed being with her mother and spoke highly of her. Her mother was someone to listen to. A daughter who looked up to her mother. A mother and daughter ... period. And again I cried for what I will never have. I cried for what I wanted or hoped for. I cried because even though I still had my daydreams and fantasies, I knew that it was already too late. Still I hoped. And yet, I knew in my heart of hearts, that it was too late. I felt cheated. But who was it that cheated me? I made a choice, and life is unpredictable.

During a phone conversation with my mother, she talked about visiting my aunt who mentioned that I still didn't have any children. My mother wondered why she would even bring it up as she herself never did. Perhaps some matters -- especially having children or the absence of children -- were just too private to be discussed with a third party. She said that she never once mentioned that my aunt's son and his wife were still childless after having been married all these years. Slightly irritated, my mother finally said that maybe it was because we didn't want any children. But no, said my aunt, every newlywed couple wants children. We weren't newlyweds anymore and the passage of time certainly took me by surprise.

Twenty years ago, I was still a young woman, sorely inexperienced and terribly and painfully shy. Twenty years later, I am bolder, still a little shy, more willing to take risks, still somewhat apprehensive, more willing to step out of my comfort zone, and yet sometimes more than contented to stay within my comfort zone.

Twenty years. Two decades. A long time. And yet it didn't seem very long ago when I still had dreams, living out my fantasy life in a land that never existed, finding love with a certain young man that I was never to find.

A little later on, I found love. Or love found me. Yes, newlyweds have children. Or most of them do. There are also others who don't, for whatever reason, some too painful to even talk about, no doubt. And what would my reason be? A combination of issues over the years? That would be one way of putting it, I suppose, at least in my mind.

Hills and valleys. Stumbling blocks. And the quicksand that ensnares you, sucking you in, slowly pulling you in further and further until you think -- or even believe -- that there is no way out.

There is a man who loves me and would do anything for me. That man isn't perfect. Neither am I, of course. I keep coming back to that. Imperfection. And so if we stay with it long enough, we will see beyond those imperfections for love -- and time -- can change one's thought process or it can even change one. Slowly. Little by little. Metamorphosis. It's been known to happen. Or maybe we just learn to live with another's imperfections for doesn't he learn to live with mine?

And in the meantime, I will see flowers on Mother's Day or listen as a young girl talks about her smart mother, or see a little boy looking undecided on the playground, and I will be overcome with an emotion that I recognise all too well. And will I always be able to tell the difference between genuine grief and self-pity?

Is this my path then, Father? Or was this chosen for me? And who chose it for me?

And one starts to feel like an ingrate because there are others whose stories are so much more painful. We don't hear about them because we are constantly surrounded by children. Other people's children.

Did I choose this path? Or did I make choices that led to this path? Do I even need to answer that question?

The body I have now is not the body I had twenty years ago. The woman I am now is not the woman I was twenty years ago. It's a long stretch of time -- though it doesn't seem that long ago -- that came and went in the blink of an eye.

 

 

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