The Mother Dance

I have been doing the mother dance all this week, celebrating each child’s birthday, seeking the best gift, seeking the words and gestures that would best express my love for my November babies: now forty-six and thirty-nine. I fear that this kind of love and connection  can’t really be expressed by gifts, words or gestures. These rituals are nothing beside a lifetime of living and witnessing. Countless touches, smiles, tears and comfortings have filled up the years, as have the failures and accomplishments, the praise and reassurances, the play and laughter, the being there and not being there. Gifts given and received have pleased and disappointed. Well-meant words have been met by anger, while simple  unplanned gestures have inspired a wave of understanding. Love can been reborn, but rarely does it happen on a birthday.

As this week concludes, and expectations (more mine of myself than those of my children) recede, I post this sculpture done several years back and I find that I am the child in need of motherly care and understanding. This tired child would flee from external expressions of love or obligation, from adult compulsions to be there for others – socially responsible and present for whatever ritual. Even as a continuous stream of nationally celebrated holidays approaches, I fling myself symbolically against my  mother’s belly – trusting the cool, familiar  hand to descend upon my fevered brow, trusting her to be patient with my tears, trusting her to lead me to where I need to be. A quiet unpeopled place would be good.

And suddenly I am there. Simply writing these words – just sharing these feelings – has soothed the child, brought peace to the woman who finally understands and mothers her weary self.

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9 Responses to “The Mother Dance”

  1. Kendall Says:

    “Mothers her weary self.” Yes, Leif. Who better? You are the one who can mother yourself; I am the one who can mother myself. Blogging is one of the ways we do that. Bless us both.

  2. Leiflife Says:

    Bless us both… I was very much aware of you as I wrote this blog.

  3. christopherem Says:

    Dear Leif, I thought of you, and of your Airth, and of Kendall, as I read this wonderful poem by Thomas Blackburn (quoted in a book by May Sarton, WRITINGS ON WRITING). Christopher

    SCHOOL OF BABYLON

    Although a wine-glass or a cup
    Can hold as little of the sea
    As you and I of our own selves,
    Pin-pointed by mortality,
    We still, that something of the whole
    May quicken in the finite part,
    Must labour for a deeper breath
    And greater tension of the heart.
    Out of their windy distances
    The further energies draw near
    And kindlings in our tongues and hands
    Increase the glory and the fear.
    But still as the unspoken word
    Swings slowly downward into speech
    And in becoming us reveals
    Another word beyond our reach,
    We praise the School of Babylon,
    For where else could we learn
    To walk into the furnaces
    And whistle as we burn?

  4. Kendall Says:

    What an amazing poem–whistle as we burn, oh yes. Thanks so much, Christopher. Now I’m going to look up Thomas Blackburn and read more of his work.

  5. leiflife Says:

    Christopher, here you are – angel that you are – bringing me words I need to hear. May Sarton meant so much to me in the seventies. I Read everything I could find – lived with her words as constant encouragment. I even wrote to her when I lived in Massachusetts, and received a beautiful note in return. For the two years I lived in MA, I drove up to York, ME, when I needed that particular “solitude” that so nurtured her. Oh, that coast – with its rocks to climb, its wild waves to confront! Thank you…

  6. leiflife Says:

    And Kendall is here – as well – reminding me that though I received the words of the poet, Blackwell, and was moved by their beauty, I didn’t acknowledge their author. The name of May Sarton carried me back to a time when anything she wrote or quoted lifted or warmed my heart. Still, these are words she chose to quote, therefore believed. So, thank you Mr. Blackburn, who knows what it is to “labour for a deeper breath”.

    Sweet Kendall, bless you, and I pray you are feeling better.

  7. christopherem Says:

    Ah, Leif, glad you liked the poem. Here is another good one by May Sarton (this book, Writings on Writing, is such a delight.)

  8. leiflife Says:

    Oh, dear God, Christopher, after listening to this I have no words, only a grateful sigh outward – and another. How can you know how deeply I would receive this poem and the beautiful voice delivering it? Soul to soul it comes and you have facilitated the crossing. Dear friend, thank you.

  9. Kendall Says:

    Me too. What she said. Kendall.

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