Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Mother's Shadow

We say we will never be anything like ours. We commit at least a decade of our lives doing everything possible to avoid becoming a replica of where we came from, of becoming just like our mother. We rebel, we deny, then we get as close as we can as we try and prove how we are different. Until we become mothers, we have no idea how it can happen. Then, we have our own and it becomes impossible to imagine otherwise—our children, they become our shadow—an extension of us, a limb.

Was it someone else’s life before kids because I can hardly imagine it was mine? I can no longer remember the freedom of time or choice. It’s as if there once was an emotional vacancy inside me, a void I was unaware of before—a place now filled with an immense amount of love and fear all at the same time. I can’t recall the last time I wasn’t thinking or worrying about her.

Nobody ever talks about how you lose complete ability to be objective. It’s really the first time in a woman’s life this will happen—this unique kind of love, a deep selfless unconditional care and concern for someone besides ourselves. Wherever we’ve loved before, we have never loved like this. We didn’t realize how we would one day fight so fierce with unreciprocated commitment for the life of our children.

We meet a fear we have never known, with ignorance and unimaginable vulnerability we make our way. And it’s then we realize how our mothers couldn’t and still cannot resist. It’s beautiful really. It’s poetic and passionate. When you can gain this perspective, you gain the gift of forgiveness and compassion for what every mother fears— their child’s failure and disappointment. And you gain an understanding of your mother’s desire for peace and perfection in your life.

I think of a movie trailer, a preview to the main attraction. As parents, we possess the experiences our children await. We get to celebrate their victories, reliving and recreating all the memories from our own journey along the way. We’ve seen a preview. We try to edit the story for our children, take a second chance at getting it right. We endure the disappointment, the awkward growth process, the tragedy—a resurrection of our own wounds from a life we left behind. And we wonder how, as mothers, we can be objective? See, this is when it gets too close to recognize. In many ways, we continue to stand in the shadow of our own mother as we try and cast light on our children.

We can be free to love the only way we know how, regardless of the errors we will make along the way, and we will create peace for our children when we can learn to look back at our own mothers—with renewed understanding and gratitude.