There is a Jewish proverb that says God could not be everywhere so he created mothers. Motherhood, being a mother, is by far the most stupendous experience of my life. The abounding love I have in my heart for my children surpasses all angst and neurosis.
I would not have called myself a natural mother. At least, I did not feel comfortable in the role. And while I had a Baby Tenderlove as a little girl(and still have her in my treasure box), I do not recall thinking or wishing to grow up and be a mommy. I was petrified, honestly. When pregnant with my first, I was in the last year of my residency. It was a juggling act, a feat of tremendous proportions and simply by grace that he has become such a spectacular young man. He was tiny…puny even….and I have carried with me this idea that I simply did not have enough within me to nourish him and make him healthy at birth. Except, he was healthy…scrappy even….a resiliency that is created in the heart of a truly joyful child. My first child is a happy child. And I now watch him on the cusp into manhood. To have a happy heart in a word where people are unkind, unfair, unloving and unforgiving places that heart in peril for cynicism. It is from this that I wish to protect him most. I want him to keep his joyful heart.
My second child was and is so different. He was born larger, easier and calmer. I figure I was just far less neurotic the second time around. He nursed better…I nursed better. He was an easier baby. He slept through vacuuming and dog barking. He also climbed out of his crib at 11 months and could put down the safety rail on his bed. My Evie is a giant satellite dish, perceptive and constantly processing his surroundings. It takes alot to get a system like that offline and to sleep, like shutting down a mainframe. But that trait means he “gets” so much more than those around him. He is not easily fooled. It is my job to keep him affirmed and strong so as to not doubt himself.
Both of my boys are wicked fast, they have quick minds and tongues. They will challenge the best teachers. They have big personalities. I want more than anything to give them the geography to grow into their full potential. I do not want Bonsai children that have been trimmed and trained and clipped and manipulated. Let them grow wild and free. They can shape themselves later when they are fully grown. They will have more branches to work with by then. While the Joshua tree has a shape formed by the elements, it is still a majestic tree, left to grow and root itself firmly into the earth. It is able to withstand the battering of the ocean wind and air. I much prefer to think of my children as Joshua trees or Cypress. In even the most ridiculous of environments, they grow strong and tall. In fact, without the flooding, brackish swamp, the Cypress withers and dies. Without the constant wind, the distinctive Joshua tree does not take shape. It is from their environments that they are tested and formed and become their true selves.
Every tree has rings that record history. There is evidence of periods of stress, drought, spectacular growth or fire. The sturdy weather these events, record them and continue in spite of them. In the propagation of a family tree, sometimes the seedlings twirl far away from the mother tree, find fertile ground and begin their own existence. It is a testament to the hearty stock.
My own mother and her mother are and were strong women. With fortitude and determination, they passed forward in the raising and rearing of their children. They planted their children and did their best to give them what was necessary for their growths and development. If the downwind evidence of their effort is recorded and broadcast by my own sons, then they did a very fine job. And for that I am truly and forever blessed.