Monday, July 11, 2005

New mother without mother

I finally did it, or rather my little girl did - I'm an Ima!

Such a wonderful feeling, beyond words, which is a weird feeling for someone who writes.

I did it my way, naturally, and I'm so glad I did, I spent the first few days like a Duracell bunny, boundless energy and joy radiating from every pore. I'm surprised they didn't lock me in a radiation proof room, I was that bright and glowy from the sheer exhileration of it all, from the moment she was born.

Couldn't figure out why they wanted me to take a wheelchair or kept asking if I felt faint. Me, faint?! I'm a new Ima and I'm raring to go, just give me my kid and let me nurse for crying out loud. It's not as if I'd been given any painkillers or what have you, I was naturally high on giving birth - still am, though I must say that physical exhaustion is starting to set in.

No, I couldn't be any happier about giving birth and being a mother, except, except -

My mother isn't here.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. I mean, I had of course hoped to be younger, but what can you do, but I never imagined being motherless as a new mother.

My mother loved kids, really put her whole heart and soul into being a mother to me, the way a mother should. It was criminal that she was denied more children, but I always swore to myself that I would remedy that. She would be an awesome grandmother, she'd live nearby or in the same house, just as we did with my grandmother. That was the plan at least.

Except of course she is dead, died almost exactly two years ago, and damn the way my body works, I didn't manage to produce a kid until now. And my God how those two years hurt.

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer she told the oncologist that she would beat it, she had to, she was going to be a grandmother, she had to live to be a grandmother.

But she didn't and now I've just named my little girl in her honour and it feels so strange. Not strange to have chosen her name, but strange that I had to, that she isn't here with me on earth, babe in arms, joyful in my joy, our joy.

Yes of course everyone has told me how she is here in spirit, she's looking down on us, blah blah blah with the usualy platitudes of comfort, but it's not the same, and they know it. Even better have been the folks who say the timing is no coincidence, afterall, I got pregnant almost exactly one year after my mother's death, quite clearly it was my mother's saintly intervention in Heaven that granted me a baby. I know these are meant to be words of consolation, but I find it pretty cruel to think of a bargain in which I exchange my mother for my child.

But there you have it, I'm a mother, and my mother is no more.

So my joy is not quite boundless. My joy at being a mother, at having my wonderful baby girl nursing at my breast, that is everything I dreamed of and more, no question. But doing so without my mother, not having her hold my girl, her grandchild, that without doubt makes this bittersweet.

That is what is though, so I've made my peace with what is despite the loss, because all my life I've waited for this moment and never, until I finally had my daughter in my arms, had her nursing at my breast, had my husband glowing with happiness at my side, never could I have fully understood the magnitude of the status of mother, of parent.

And my mother may not be here in person, and I hope she is watching from above, but more than anything she is here in my memory, in everything she taught me about motherhood, from her opinion of dummies (no way) to her world view on how to talk to your children (don't talk down to them, listen and expect them to surprise you).

One of her guiding principles, don't be self-conscious, grown-ups can be silly too, even if the folks at the supermarket think you're nuts for chatting to your newborn about how to pick a ripe watermelon, everything can be a learning experience, just because you think the baby is too young to gain anything from what you're saying, doesn't mean she isn't.

Above all though, she taught me to always show love.

I hope that I'll merit to do as good a job as she did.