Thursday, February 24, 2011

Universal mother

"...The thing I have always wanted to say I have no right to and may be so unwanted and I never would wish that. And my greatest fear has always been that my words could possibly cause you further pain which I would never want.

But I am saying it today to you. Forgive me if this is upsetting, please please.

I have always seen you as a mother, to Thomas yes, but in my soul I have always felt you must become a mother to another child, no matter how, no matter from your body or not, from birth or not it has been so strong I have written friends to speak about you and ask their advice. I feel it achingly in my core that your life, that your joy and your path is this, is to find a way to make it happen for you. Through foster or adopt or any other means. And I know that is so easier said than done, I know what you have said about all of it. I do I truly do. I just want you to know I dream about this, it haunts me and I have never understood why it is so, with you, it has never done so with someone else from our land of IF."


I think about this sort of thing a lot. Even still.

I imagine the life I nearly had every time I see a mother lean in to her child to listen to a secret he wants to share, or watch her touch her child with that absent-minded mother-love that makes her need to stroke her daughter's hair without even realizing she's doing it. I feel the emptiness around me so acutely in those fleeting moments when I see so clearly what I'm missing. And I panic in those moments too, knowing that I won't have that kind of connection with anyone. Ever.

But I also believe that childlessness is the road some people walk - some by choice, some because the choice was made for them.

I'm not walking it to be noble or to take the bullet for someone else. I'm walking it because I have to - because this is where life has lead me and I can't turn around and go back to a different starting point. Not now. Not after everything. I tried to choose a different path, but I kept ending up back on this one - more bloodied and broken each time - and there finally came a moment when I decided to stop fighting against it and accept that this is what was meant to be.

I regret that I was ever put in a position where I had to choose. But I don't regret the choice I made. I have to trust that it was the right one for me and for My Beloved.

I admit that it haunts me too. It probably always will. But I do believe that for us this is how it is supposed to be.

So I've just decided that I'll be a mother in other ways to other people until I'm with my own children again. A universal mother, if you will. 

I'll crochet for my friends' babies, I'll listen when someone needs to talk, I'll keep secrets, I'll send cookies to work with My Beloved so he can share them with his co-workers, I'll make homemade birthday cakes, I'll make spaghetti sauce from scratch, I'll dry tears, I'll soothe hurts, I'll offer advice,  I'll make things better when I can. And I will always keep tissues, gum, hand sanitizer, and aspirin in my purse.

I can still be a mother in the little ways that mean so much. It's not the same, I know that. But walking this road doesn't mean that I can't still use the mothering instincts that I was born with, or pass the kindness and love that I was shown by my own mother on to others.

Making that choice is easy.

Bleu, thank you so much for your comment. I know it came from a place of love and respect, and so no,  it didn't hurt me. In fact, I've been thinking a lot about this whole "universal mother" thing in the last few months, and your words helped. Truly.

18 comments:

Mrs. Spit said...

I love that, the idea of the Universal Mother.

I find I am getting angry at people who wish their life on me. It does no good, and perhaps even more than that, I am angered my choices are delegitimized by an issistence that parenthood is the pinaccle of adult life.

Willow said...

This breaks my heart. I am so sorry for all the losses you've suffered. I think the loss of a dreamed-of future, especially one that was so close, is one of the hardest things to bear. I dolike the Universal Mother idea. In the book Committed (which is a memoir about marriage, but the author is childless by choice so this comes up too), she talks a lot about how aunties have always been needed in societies around the world to serve as supplemental mothers. My favorite aunt never married or had children, and because of that she has always played a special role in my life that my aunts with children have neither the time nor the inclination to fill. I hope you will find fulfillment on your new path. Hugs to you.

loribeth said...

I had many friends who kept encouraging me "don't give up, you'd be such fabulous parents" (&, yes, even "have you thought about adoption?"!!) long, long after the decision had been made. One of them was our former support group leader, who really should have known better (she actually apologized to me the next time I talked to her -- I think she realized her comments had crossed the line). It rankled, but I kept trying to remember that they truly meant well, & their comments were made out of love & concern. I think it's just very difficult for some parents (whether parenthood came easily to them or not) to imagine that a life without children can also be worth living, even when that life wasn't your first choice. I know the fact that we came so close to achieving that dream really bothers a lot of people. It still bothers me sometimes too.

I love your vision of a Universal Mother. : )

niobe said...

Because of my own intellectual and emotional limitations, I realize that I'll probably never be able to truly understand other people's choices about, well, pretty much anything -- big, medium or small.

But I'm sure that they are making the right choices for them.

Thank you for this post.

justine said...

Your love, and the way that you are choosing to express it, is such a gift ... there have been many "mothers" in my life, some childless, and I am so grateful for their love and their mothering when I needed it most.

Valerie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerie said...

Thank you so much for the idea of the "Universal Mother". I love it. Yesterday, a very late Christmas card arrived from the Childrens' Village in Mongolia where my sponsee, a 14-year-old boy, lives. In some small way, I realize I have become his mother, even though I may never meet him. And I feel that maternal affection with my little piano students, my cat, even my husband at times. You have given me a term I can relate to and work with, and I'm very grateful.

And loribeth, I have had that exact experience too. I understand the loving place it comes from when people share, but sometimes it breaks open the wound afresh that is just starting to heal...

My warmest wishes to you all...

Illanare said...

Universal Mother - I love that.

bleu said...

I read your post with my heart in my throat. Thank you so much for your kindness and understanding where I came from. I by NO means mean to tell anyone to just "keep trying" or "not give up" or any such crap.

I also have friends who have chosen to live child-free both by choice and by circumstance and I have never told them what I wrote to you. Nor have I dreamt about them.

I think your definition of Universal Mother is so wonderful and beautiful. I have always been moved by my perception of the kindness of your soul.

So I will always be reading and sending love and wishing you peace and grace.

Much love

lilpudge said...

You had me with this paragraph

"......I'll crochet for my friends' babies, I'll listen when someone needs to talk, I'll keep secrets, I'll send cookies to work with My Beloved so he can share them with his co-workers, I'll make homemade birthday cakes, I'll make spaghetti sauce from scratch, I'll dry tears, I'll soothe hurts, I'll offer advice, I'll make things better when I can. And I will always keep tissues, gum, hand sanitizer, and aspirin in my purse........."

I had to wipe more than a few tears away after reading that......

Universal mother - Brilliant, just brilliant! Thank You.

Mali said...

I have to say I was very uncomfortable (and perhaps like Mrs Spit a little angry) when I saw that comment to you, but figured that you and the commenter knew each other intimately.

Can I say though that in time (soon?) I hope that you will no longer "imagine the life I nearly had every time I see ... etc." I felt that panic you talked about when I knew that it was all over. But gradually, the panic eased. My brain told me not to "imagine what might have been" as I was only torturing myself - and you know, the pain eased.

the misfit said...

I've heard that called "spiritual motherhood" too. It struck me more clearly as beautiful when my heart wasn't all tied up with this IF business.

The decision hasn't been easy at all for me (and I'm not there even now) - but I know it is the right one. And God bless you for making it, and being a witness to that. It means so much just to have good people to look to who are modeling something other than "good IF women become good IF [biological or adoptive] mothers" - because that's not a bad thing, but when it's the sole example, it's exhausting and demoralizing. Your witness is important to me.

Pamela said...

Your response was beautifully written. Thank you for saying some things that I've never articulated but often thought...this in particular: "I'm not walking [this road] to be noble or to take the bullet for someone else. I'm walking it because I have to - because this is where life has led me and I can't turn around and go back to a different starting point. Not now. Not after everything. I tried to choose a different path, but I kept ending up back on this one - more bloodied and broken each time - and there finally came a moment when I decided to stop fighting against it and accept that this is what was meant to be."

B said...

Hey msfitzia

I wrote a blog post recently and dedicated to you. Also to me.

You may like to read it

from B

Sue said...

"absent-minded mother-love"

This phrase breaks my heart with its accuracy. It's part of (what my husband calls) the hangover after we've spent the afternoon with friends with their children.

It's what I feel when I skype with my sister and her 20-month old daughter (born after 6 years of treatments and losses). She's so natural and casual about it. It's happy habit, too. It makes me ache, both with envy, but love, too -- so glad that she's finally gotten there.

We also have not had living children since our loss. I don't know where our path will lead -- we are trying to determine that, too. I think it is wonderful that you can use your mother-love to nurture the world around you. Wonderful.

Thinking of you and Thomas this week, though I'm not sure what act of kindness will come from me yet.

Another Dreamer said...

I think the idea of being a universal mother is beautiful.

Megan said...

Delurking to say I've had the same thought as Bleu but I realize that it's because I want the pain to soften for you in the way that having living children has made it, for me, so much easier to bear.
You were one of the voices I found when I lost my daughter four years ago this month and never thought I'd have my living sons. I wish, wish, wish it could happen for you.
But you ARE a universal mother and although we've never spoken or corresponded I think of you when I see my two-year-old cuddling one of your creations.

kate said...

I like that concept very much. I think I spent my early/mid-20s being the universal wife. I hadn't managed to meet anyone I'd actually want to marry, and I think I was sure at that point that I never would, and so I set about being the one who followed through, tied up loose ends, made sure everyone was cared for, etc. One of the highest compliments I ever received was my orchestra director telling me (while I was working on a project for a summer camp we were hosting) that I would make a great wife for someone someday. It sounds horribly backwards and almost misogynistic when I type it out like that, though I promise it wasn't. It was one of those things where I felt like even if I never became someone's wife, it was okay, because I was going to be a good partner to whomever needed my support, that I was good at being a partner, even if I wasn't one by strictest definition.

Great post. Really, really great.