to mother, with love

May 12, 2023

It was the deep Ujjayi breath –– victorious –– that gave her away. Three flights of stairs is a lot for a pregnant woman in her home stretch. I took one look at my studio mate and felt nothing short of awe. It’s never not miraculous to me that women grow human beings inside their bodies. Earlobes, knee caps and brains with neurons and nerves and a hippocampus. The older my children get, the more miraculous it feels that they ever lived inside me. And it’s not just about scale. Yes, they wear sneakers the size of most newborns but it’s less about how big they are and more about how independent they are. “Teach your children to swim,” says the Torah. It’s what I’ve been attempting to do since birth, and not without great pain; teach my children to swim so that they can swim away from me. But what happens to the space inside our bodies that our babies once occupied? Do we channel that void into caring for them? Like limpets on a rock, they then spend the next several years glued to the outside of our bodies. Then what? Then begins the long, heart-wrenching, joyous journey, theirs and ours, toward separateness. In the beginning, we may not even realize it’s happening. Three, four, five wobbly steps across the kitchen floor; before we know it, they’re hopping on a train to Busan. If we’ve played our cards right, we’re on our own train to Cornwall. Or Talkeetna. But no matter how lightly we travel, we always carry a longing, a nostalgia, or what the Portuguese call, “saudade,” for what was once there. The baby that rolled around inside our belly. The child that spread out like a starfish on our back. My wrinkled naval and flaccid breasts are a reminder, as is the searing pain in my hip where all three children once perched. But the greatest reminder comes every time they swim away; what begins as a chasm gradually lessens in size to something so bearable that I almost forget it’s there. Until they swim away again.


Leave a Comment

All rights reserved © La Parachute · Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie