Around me I see other mothers seeking their way as mothers while their children are just now beginning to leave the nest, or not quite yet, but now being "teens", or daughters now having babies of their own, or mothers struggling with the serious illness of their children whether mental or emotional or physical and the mothers who are trying to live with the death and loss of their most precious child. In all of these stages it seems motherhood is so much about simply yet excruciatingly letting go.
When our child is deep within our womb safely growing we can touch our belly and feel the magic of our child so very close. They are a part of us. They share our blood, our cells, our mental space. We feel their very beginnings. We dream dreams of their life to be, we see our life as so much a part of theirs. They are our blessing, our love, our life. And then the true experience of motherhood begins and we must let go. We give birth and each of us has a different experience of what that means and how that goes, but what is shared among us all is this, this is the first of the leavings, the first of the letting go's. And it continues. We have times when all seems stable, all seems good as our dear sons or daughters are under our wings being groomed and cared for until we are given some kind of reminder to not rely on the status quo as things change, our children grow up. They begin to take steps in new directions, usually away from us. Where did they go, how did they grow that fast, when did that change begin, "I did not see it coming", we say.
Do we reach out to bring them in closer? Yes sometimes we do and we try but this does not work for long. Nature has its way with us. Nature teaches us mothers about being mothers. Mothers must let go, let go, and let go. Even though it feels like it is antithetical and against the grain. No, a mother must hold on, the baby must never leave its womb, but that is not the way. And we know as that was true for us with our own mothers. We can take a moment and remember our own struggles with our mothers' need to grasp, reach out, hold on and all we wanted was the love, the knowing they were there but we had to move on, we demanded they let go of us. And so we do this too with our own and they with us.
I have two special daughters who are teaching me, showing me the letting go. I just wish they could understand how contrary this experience feels. It can be like a ripping apart of skin from bone at times. And yet, I savor this, the tear in my skin, the wound it leaves behind. I savor the opening, the space that is left for me to discover myself. The more my daughters grow and mature, the more I watch them develop into the strong women they promise to be, the more I grow and find the lesson of letting go useful and rich. As a mother I am a teacher, a guide to my brood but I am also a student, a pupil of nature, of mother earth as she teaches me of the letting go.
And in this great good fortune of being mother and learning motherness I want to honor the mothers who are struggling with this letting go whether it is in the simplest form of a child tying her shoes for the first time no longer needing help, or the mother who has lost her child. They are learning letting go and as they do, they make space, space for creation, their own creation. Let's all honor this letting go, this perpetual learning in all of its nuances. Can we let go and see what remains, what is it? A space now open to be filled, with a maturing child, an independent son or daughter, a wiser parent, a woman finding her own.
In the most painful places in our hearts some of us must let go of the child too ill to live any more, the child unable to cope as she grows up and makes devastating consequential choices or the child taken by cruel circumstances. For those mothers the letting go must be dressed with the strongest of grief but there still is the promise of the space that is created in the letting go, a space that is hopeful with promise and newness. Isn't this what nature is teaching us, teaching us mothers as we let go, let go, let go?
Today I visited Yosemite with my daughter, Sara, her friend, Cassie, and my husband, Doug. As we drove to the park we witnessed a burned forest that resulted from a devastating fire this past summer. And it was here we saw where mother earth has had to let go of her forest creation. As we commented on our sadness seeing the scarred land to the ranger at the front park entrance she told us to be sure to return in the Spring to see the wild flowers as they will be in abundance, a result of the fire. Mother nature has had to let go and what will be placed in the space created by her letting go will be the beauty of color, flowers and new growth for us to marvel at.
Oh what lessons we have to learn as mothers, what spaces of opportunity we are given as we let go.......this is indeed what we are being taught through this continual letting go......don't you think?