I used to measure my mother's love for me by moon miles. She would tell me she loved me to the moon and back, over and over again. It meant she loved me to infinity. After saying good night, I would lay in my bed and try to think of the largest number I knew and multiply that by what I knew was one walking mile; it was my way of trying to understand the great distanced landscape of love. What she was giving me was an anchor, the moon, so that I could always find my way. As a child, I perhaps knew this landscape was deep within me, but I only consciously thought of it as something outside of myself.
Now when I look at that outside landscape, watching the moon fall over the hills in the early morning, I think about how many thousands of miles she travels, and I look freshly upon that old landscape deep within me. For every one mile I walk, I travel at least ten soul miles. Where am I going? All sorts of places. I walk here and there, following a night's dream, wondering about its message. I walk in and out of lines of poetry. I sing aloud. I talk to myself. I make lists. I watch deer. I sometimes take a detour to follow a bird's call just to listen. I see this rich inner landscape and its freedom to roam in nature and I know where I am headed: where is it? just where is that location of the human soul? I will find her. I will walk and walk until I find her.
Under the crescent moon last night, I waited at the train station to meet my eldest son. He had only gone 15 miles to see a movie, gone only 3 hours, but my excitement to greet him, made me pause. I have dropped him off and picked him up loads of times without thinking about what I was doing. This time was different. I thought about his age. How soon trains will take him far from me, and how they will bring him back to me even if time beats the miles. That's when I recognized the hidden mother in me. That's when I realized that the way I feel about him coming and going, building confidence, finding interests, taking trips, long and short, without me, is exactly how my mother felt years before: excitement to watch me grow and super excitement welcoming me home. It is humbling, this push and the pull, this letting go and this gathering in, a perfect balance of moonlight hanging in utter darkness. I thought I knew this mother, but only now I recognize her face.
Today's post is part of the Moods of Motherhood blogging carnival celebrating the launch of the second edition of Moods of Motherhood: the inner journey of mothering by Amazon bestselling author, Lucy H. Pearce (published by Womancraft Publishing). Today over 40 mothers around the world reflect on the internal journey of motherhood: raw, honest and uncut. To see a list of the other contributors and to win your own copy visit Dreaming Aloud.net
All four of my children, two boys and two girls, ranging from 3 years old to 15, have long hair. I have long hair too. It wasn’t always this way. When my oldest child decided on his 7th birthday that he was going to grow his hair long, something changed in our family, and something changed in me. Eight years later, with my slightly more mindful set of eyes, the length of my children’s hair strangely tells the story of my mothering.
I secretly smiled as my oldest son started growing his hair when he was seven. Despite negative comments from family members and despite often being mistaken for a girl, I admired his determination and strength of spirit; he was not bending to cultural norms. He had a vision for what he wanted for himself and how he wanted to appear in this world. He was teaching me about inner and outer strength of character. Little did he know that he was creating a norm for hair length in our family.
Just around that time, the longer my oldest son’s hair grew, the more I began to notice that my toddler was approaching the time for a first haircut. I avoided heated discussions with my husband who was eager to cut Henry’s long blond curls because he was tired of explaining to people that he was not a girl. I understood his point, but the longer Henry’s hair grew, the more I fiercely protected its length. And the more I protected its length, the more I realized how his hair held innocence, resilience, and mindfulness.
My toddler was showing me all sorts of things about life: how to approach the sea with excitement and wonder, how to create and live in imaginary worlds, and how our inner walk takes longer to practice than our outer one. His hair, so blond, so long, so curly, captured not only his true toddler essence but also said something about my desire to let it be what it is: the more I saw him, the more I saw me. The more I protected his hair length, the more I was protecting that uncultivated, creative me that so longed to be free. He was giving me a lesson in mindfulness: pay attention to embodiment, the here and now, and the beauty and the joy and the real you will surface.
Henry decided to cut his hair just before he was three years old. Despite my sadness in letting go of the length, I knew I needed to allow him to make this small significant decision. It seemed like the timing was right for him (and for me) because our differentiating had already started. It was time for me to let go now.
My two boys, now several years older, still have long hair. I have never told them how much their hair length means to me. They would probably think I am terribly strange. Besides, I wouldn’t want them to think to do things to please me. I love how they don’t care about the cultural norms that attempt to define girls one way, boys another. I love how they embrace their own uncultivated, creative selves by hair style and length. And a deeper part of me believes that their hair length holds spiritual power—a power they possibly don’t even know or understand yet.
As I watch my boys so easily embrace who they are becoming, I wonder if this is the real gift in mothering: they have the potential to teach me to open my eyes and my heart to a wisdom that only passes by example. They live according to their own beat (and hair length). I still fiercely protect their desires and wishes and dreams--and their desire for long hair--and the more I practice this behavior, the more I realize I mother me while I mother them.