Becoming my mother

In these long summer days I am given to thinking about the child developing in my womb and the profound ways in which she will alter my life. I am an introvert, a solitary person. I wonder what my days will be like when the silence I have always sought and prized will be interrupted, canceled by the constant presence of an other whose every cry must be answered and whose every need must be met. Will it be the end of my selfhood, or just my selfishness? I feel myself growing more withdrawn with each day that passes, determined to guard my remaining quiet time jealously, resentful of any minute that I must spend with anyone other than my husband. I know that when the time comes, I will be ready to give of myself completely, sacrificing even the solitude that I have loved above all other other things, and that I will be joyful to have traded such a prized possession for a reward greater than any other. But while I have my time, I indulge the old way of thinking and immerse myself in contemplation.

My thoughts turn to my mother and I wonder what she thought about as she awaited the birth of my brother, her first child. She died when I was just a girl and I barely remember her. I cannot say that I ever really knew her. I hear that she was gregarious, perhaps she spent her last months before becoming a mother anxiously awaiting the cries and babbling and laughing that would finally bring an end to the silence of the days she spent at home, alone. I wonder what kind of mother she was. From the few memories I have of her, all I can say was that she was good. I cannot imagine what our relationship would be like now that I am an adult. I am nearly as old as she was when she died, and as I approach her now eternal age, she seems every day less a parent to me. She is instead a women with whom I have some things in common, who might be a friend if the circumstances were right, with whom I might talk about cooking or books or being pregnant. And in this way I relate to her more now than I have in nearly three decades. She becomes more present to me now than in all the years that have passed since she died.

When I was a child the tragedy of her death was that I was motherless. The weight of her absence dominated my life until adulthood. My thoughts of her revolved around the pain of my longing for her. She was more an unfulfilled desire than a person. I hadn’t the time to grow out of this childish and self-involved view of her before she died and without her it was impossible to move beyond it. Now, as I realize that it won’t be long before I’ll be older than she ever was, and as I prepare to be a mother myself, the full scope of the tragedy of her dying twenty-eight years ago becomes apparent. Now capable of viewing it from her perspective, I think about how frightened and angry she must have been to die so young, after having lived only a half a life. My heart breaks at the thought of the fear and sadness she felt as she realized that she was leaving her children behind, without knowing what would happen to them.

When my child is born, when I hold her in my arms, when I look into her eyes or see her smile, when I hear her laugh, I will experience the joy that my mother felt at living all these things. And having these experiences in common with her, I will come to know her through them, and I will have found her again.


22 responses to “Becoming my mother

  1. Lovely thoughts. How sad for your and for your mother, but how wonderful the little one waiting to be born that you are so thoughtful about the role you are taking on. I’m sure you’ll be a wonderful mother and a great tribute to your own.

  2. That was beautifuly written, KC. I almost don’t know what to say…I will say this though, being a mother is the HARDEST, yet most rewarding job in the world! There is nothing wrong with you wanting to guard your remaining quiet time for these last few months. Spend as much alone time with your husband as you can. Trust me.Even though you never really got to know your Mother, she is still within you, both spiritually and physically. A part of her runs through your veins. You will be passing a part of her onto your unborn child. So, in a way, she will always be here with you and your child.

  3. Karen, This is really beautiful. I think it’s only natural to think of your mother during this period. My mother was 16 and unmarried when she was pregnant with me, and hid her pregnancy from her family as long as possible. I’ve thought a lot during this pregnancy about how lucky I am to have an amazing husband who supports me and all of the love and support I have around me. Granted, I’m more than double my mother’s age…But I think it’s normal that your thoughts turn to your mom especially because you lost her so young. So unfair but I hope it brings you nearer to her in some way.Michelle

  4. Thanks, everyone. I’m so thankful to be experiencing something that makes me feel closer to my mother. I hadn’t expected that the pregnancy would have that effect, because before becoming pregnant, I was just caught up in the joy of contemplating becoming a mother myself. I have always felt her with me, but she was always more an idea than a person, because I knew so little of her. But now, she seems more real to me, and that makes truly happy.

  5. Truly beautiful, and you’ve just addressed what I was wondering–whether you had anticipated these feelings, the idea of your being closer to your mom through your own motherhood journey, or whether they kind of snuck up on you. As it was the latter, it somehow seems even more of a blessing. I don’t know if I can explain it, but it seems to me that sometimes being blindsided makes us appreciate and understand things more than we would have if we had worked our way slowly into something.I am lucky to have a very close relationship with my mother, but I still find that as I grow older and put myself in her mind, her place at my age, I understand her more and more. It’s a wonderful gift we have–time.

  6. Oh KC….what a lovely thoughts about your mother anf new babay. I am lucky to still have my Mom and can’t image loosing her a such a young age. You will be a great Mom!

  7. I’m all choked up now. Sniff. I am sure that your mommy would have been very proud of you now.And just you wait, your blog will become a mommy blog without you even realizing it. :-)

  8. This is a really touching post. I’m sure that your mother is watching over you always. I can imagine that you becoming a mother yourself makes you think even more about your own mother. Like Giulia said she is with you physically and spiritually always.

  9. Sognatrice, I agree, I think that if I had been expecting this, it wouldn’t have had quite the same impact on me.Robin, I hope you’re right! I didn’t have much time to learn from her, but I think that if keep her always in my heart she will be a great influence on all that I do.Oh no, Caroline, not another Mommy blog! :) Actually, I must confess I’d been thinking that too, simply because the pregnancy and then being a mother will very naturally come to dominate my life.Thanks Delina, I do like to think she’s always there, watching over me. What makes me happy is that this is only the beginning, and that over the next months and even years, I feel even closer to her.

  10. Beautiful post. I’m sure she would be proud to know her daughter is so caring.Congrats again on your pregnancy.

  11. I cannot say how refreshing it is to find myself here floating through your words which feel like an evening out amongst friends in an outdoor cafe sharing thoughts about our mothers and motherhood… Ah! and my mother’s last name is “Campos de Perez” so your “Campo di Pere” post surprised me :)Ciao e ci vediamo dopo…

  12. Thanks J. Doe!Welcome, Roam to Rome, and thanks! Your mother has a great last name. ;)

  13. Kc this post was so touching I needed tissues! I can’t really imagine growing up without my wonderful mom. She was there holding my hand when I was giving birth to my first, and I remember thinking in a lucid moment that she gave birth to me, so she was living proof it could be done, and I could do it too. One of the things that spoke poignantly to me in this post was when you mentioned your uncertainty of how you would feel when your solitude was canceled by another whose constant presence and every cry and need would need to be met. I too had these uncertain feelings when I was pregnant with my first. Oh I knew I would be responsible and answer his cries, but I didn’t think I would particularly enjoy it. Once he was born though… I fell so deeply in love with him that I needed to be with him, to watch every expression, hear every sigh or cry and my need for solitude went away while he was so tenderly young and needed me. This is not to say that I wasn’t gleeful to be able to hand him over to someone else when I wanted to take a shower! I am so happy you have this beautiful experience ahead of you, and I can see how it will connect you with your mom. ps I tried to post this earlier but it didn’t seem to work. I hope it works now.

  14. Hi Ambra. I feel reassured knowing that you had the uncertainties about how much a woman’s life changes after giving birth. Sounds like you have a great relationship with your mother.

  15. KC, That is so incredibly beautiful, rich with honesty, insight, emotion and strength.I have no doubts as to what a wonderful mother you will be. My best to you, good luck, and good love.Scarlett & Viaggiatore

  16. What touching and beautiful words. You have a gift of translating diffuse and difficult ethereal emotions into meaningful prose. After browsing your blog a little I hope to find that you are a writer of some sort. Pj.

  17. Thank you, Pj. I love writing because of its inherent challenges. I’m more accustomed to academic writing, having done a considerable amount of it as a grad student and professor. I find creative writing much more difficult, though more rewarding. I’ll be keeping my day job, though.

  18. Tears welled in my eyes, while reading this. Very sad and thought provoking. Prior to the birth of my first born, I was also somewhat solitary, and quite frankly, still am. Yet, there is a way in which we sometimes extend ourselves through our children. They are a part of me, so it doesn't feel as if my style is interrupted. Good luck, on your delivery.

  19. Hi Day, and welcome! This post is actually from a while back…my daughter was born 2.5 years ago. I like the way you look at being a solitary person with children- that if they are part of us, they they don't interrupt our style. Thank you for that perspective!

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