It doesn’t seem that long ago when I fell pregnant with my first child, but even though I tell people I was 10 when I had her, it still makes me realise that time has well and truly marched on as she has just had her 56th birthday! In another four years she will be eligible to be part of our community and perhaps I’ll be considered too old.
I still remember the pride I felt as a young mother to be. I used to read her stories and play uplifting music as she floated around in amniotic fluid. I thought I was so grown up, yet at only 19 years old I had married a man, 10 years older, and soon after found myself ‘in the family way’. My husband was very upset, forgetting that it takes two people to create the little bump in my belly. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to see this little person.
This little person brought me so much joy and seven years later she was joined by a brother and 15 months later by another brother. I loved being a mother and believed I had the most beautiful children in the whole world. I wanted to protect them from any harm and was determined they would never suffer the pain of the kind of abuse that I had experienced.
I remember at some stage someone introduced me to Kahlil Gibran, which tended to be a rite of passage for us at some time in our lives. I was incensed by his stance on children.
“Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself, they come through you, but not from you, and though they are with you they belong not to you.”
Who did he think he was? Of course they are my children and my love will protect them and I will make sure that they have the most amazing lives.
As the years passed I have had to realise that those little baby bumps that I loved and nurtured began to be in control of their own lives. I became a figure in their lives that they tolerated as their mother, but really, what did I know. Maybe Kahlil Gibran knew what he was talking about after all. As they stumbled along making mistakes that I was sure I could have protected them from, my heart would break for them, but it was not my place to interfere.
There were moments when I lay awake worrying about how they were going to get through some situations that seemed to have no resolve and I had to learn to stand back and allow them to tread their own path. Miraculously they seemed to make their way out of their maze without any help from me. Maybe I did have some input as they knew they always had my unconditional love, although it was tested at times.
Now my offspring approach middle age, I have learnt to be accepting of their lives. It has always been important to keep the door open, whatever behaviour was being exhibited. However, I would be lying if I said that my fears for them had vanished. They are more open with me now they are older and sometimes I think it is better not to know. The biggest lesson I have learnt is to accept that it is their journey and I will always love and accept them.
Still there are nights that I lay awake wondering how they are going to get through this strange world we live in. I am so proud of them, but yes, that pride is often tinged with fear. Once a mother, always a mother.