May 11, 2013
Daughters and Mothers and Grandmothers
I am my parents' first born child. So I see the reflection of my parents (and my mother, especially) in my own adjustment to being a mom. I think about how my mom (and my dad) must have felt about me the way I feel about Emilia. And I tear up because I just had no idea that anyone could love someone so much. I've always been a sensitive soul but the breastfeeding hormones have made me especially prone to happy and sad tears. And I have a lot of happy ones these days.
Even though I've never doubted or questioned either of my parents' love for their children ... I just didn't know it could feel like this. I didn't know we were loved so much. This nagging, primal, constant love. I love my parents and siblings unconditionally and I love my spouse passionately but I love my daughter with a depth and longing and urge that I can't even adequately describe. When I try to make sense of it I wind up sounding so dorky. "I just think she is the coolest." Or worse, I gush and make people uncomfortable cause I inevitably start getting misty. In an effort to make clear how I feel for her in a relatively concise (and non-tear-inducing) manner, I've taken to telling folks that, "I think she hung the moon." Pretty much.
When I envision my mom in my early days of life, I feel more bonded and connected to her. I feel like I am in on her secret. And she knows that I (now) know. It also makes me have a new perspective of grief over the loss of my maternal grandmother (who's birthday was May 1st and who's own mother inspired Emilia's name). Although she died when I was young, I was very close with my gram. And I've always felt empathy and longing whenever my mom chokes up because x, y, or z made her think of her mom. I've imagined for years what my life would have been like if my gram had lived longer. But now, as I see how wonderful it is to be a mom and how much joy my mom derives from being a gram, I feel as though I understand another aspect of our family's shared loss.
It is always awful to lose a parent, at any age. But my mom was pretty close to my age when she lost hers. And in feeling my heart melt over seeing how my immediate family loves my baby, I am reminded of how devastating it must have been to be deprived of that. My gram was my last living grandparent, and my parents were only parents for a few years while she was alive. I think about how hard it must have been not to have them to call or lean on during tough times. I think about how hard it must have been to never again get to see your baby snuggled and loved on by your parent. I think about how lucky I am to have my mom (and mothers-in-law) around to witness and be sources of support during these special and quickly-moving newborn times.
My mom laments the fact that I am not religious and despite my wonderment over Emilia, I remain fairly agnostic. But something about a baby does bring out my suspended disbelief over some (carefully selected) elements of spirituality. I've never felt more connected to the women in my family, both living and passed.
One of the things my mother has always said to both reassure her children and perhaps herself was that no matter what the circumstance, "your mother is always with you." In doing so, she referred both to the metaphor of enduring parental influence as well as a spiritual afterlife. Now that I too am a mother, I want more than ever for both of those meanings to be true. Regardless, I know my gram would/must think that Emilia hung the moon. Happy Mother's Day to you and yours!