Monday, June 9, 2014
Gifts of life
These are the gifts that I have gained. Motherhood is this glorious thing that no-one can share; a private battle of love all my own. Love is a curse, a marvellous burden we choose to carry as a trophy. And these are the gifts that I have gained, the gifts just for me.
When it comes to mothering, I am apparently a 'natural'. This doesn't actually mean (necessarily) that I'm a 'good' mother (whatever that might mean), just that I give a superficial impression of being suited to the role. I get to enjoy the twin gifts of being seen to be a good mother, and of feeling that it might be true. It's just these things... that I'm physically comfortable with my child, confident handling him. My large hands feel designed to hold his little body as I rock him, my prominent hips fitted for him to sit. It's that he enjoys my particular brand of tickles, is soothed by my cuddles, awed by my voice. It's that our temperaments are in agreement, seeming that I can intuit his moods. I want to remember these precious things when he's gone (ie grown - no longer mine), find a way to keep these gifts beyond the limitations of the short time I have as a mother.
The second gift is this: I lost my self-consciousness with birth, and I hope never to find it. Once you've been in that room, sweating and naked, screaming at a group of strangers who are helping you push another human out of yourself... well, worrying about how people on the street might see you becomes a bit ridiculous. I've heard of mothers who feel silly talking to their child in his pram, or even - in the privacy of their homes - singing made-up songs to entertain a fractious little-one in order to do the house-work. I have absolutely no affinity with these mothers. Ageing chips away at adolescent self-consciousness; in my experience, birth destroys it with one fell blow. There is a harshness and a confidence that comes from surviving any battle, a gift born of struggle.
And with this, I have recently discovered a little token of that monstrous wonder-day. Before birth I dyed a streak in my hair, intended as a statement of my new life... it didn't look as I hoped and I've been wishing back my natural colour. But it has presented one more unexpected gift - amongst the re-growth, in the new hairs that can be dated, there is a crop of silver. Never in history has a woman been so thrilled to discover grey hairs. I shall wear them un-dyed even more proudly than I planned - not just a sign of distinguished adult-dom, but my battle-scars. Oddly, it is since becoming a mother that I have started, for the first time in my life, to take care of my looks. I think it is about holding claim to something of myself, to not lose it all to him. But even in my vanity, I will never attempt to hide the journey I have taken.
A truly beautiful face is one that shows that it has lived; I think I'm just starting to look beautiful.