On Motherhood in a Time of Uncertainty

Two months ago my grand­moth­er (and the woman who raised me) passed away. I rushed to go see her before she died, and then spent a scant few days pro­cess­ing her death with fam­i­ly before dri­ving home…straight into the whirl­wind of a pan­dem­ic that has not come close to abat­ing. I feel like I have not had the time (or the emo­tion­al resources) to tru­ly grieve, and now I’m against Moth­er’s Day, sit­ting with the empti­ness of my mama’s absence.

This empti­ness is stark against my daugh­ter’s con­stant pres­ence. Sofia and I have not had an hour apart since we’ve all had to iso­late our­selves. As we’ve had to adjust to home­school­ing, work­ing non­stop from home, adjust­ing to a new day-to-day, pro­cess­ing the changes it’s made to our lives and to our world, Sofia has become increas­ing­ly needy…even as she’s demon­strat­ed incred­i­ble resilience and adaptability.

She begs to sleep with me, begs to cud­dle with me. She curls up in my lap, promis­ing to nev­er leave me, stay with me for­ev­er and ever. I tell her that she won’t want to stay for­ev­er, and that this is okay. We all leave. We can’t promise for­ev­er. Espe­cial­ly daugh­ters and moth­ers. There will be a time when she will leave home, and there will be a time when I will leave her behind as well. But in this time of chaos and uncer­tain­ty, what can I promise her? What can I teach her?

I can promise her that I will always love her. That while I am here she will always be seen, always be heard, always fought for. That till my last breath she will in some way be teth­ered to me, nev­er adrift, nev­er alone. No one ever should be.

Per­haps that is what my ten­der and fero­cious love for her can teach the both of us dur­ing this dark time: No one should ever be alone, adrift. I can use this oppor­tu­ni­ty to teach her the foun­da­tions of duty and care. How even in this time of iso­la­tion we are deeply depen­dent on each oth­er. The biggest gift we have is our capac­i­ty to give to the world, and the best mes­sage I can hope to give her is that we are behold­en to one another.

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in the Sto­ry Box blog: https://jointhestorybox.blogspot.com/2020/05/on-motherhood-in-time-of-uncertainty.html