Burning Love

I have been thinking of Priscilla Presley too much these last couple of days. Lifestyles of the rich and famous really can be far more traumatic than any kind of ordinary financially-struggling-working person. Sure, I often think that if I had more money everything would be easier, but thinking this weekend about ELVIS and his family, I think it’s not true at all. I feel like my level of contentment with my life and the wellness of my loved ones at this moment is such that Priscilla would trade with me in a flash if it could rid her of her anguish. It’s a big burning love, motherhood. It’s often messy, and sometimes angry and uncomfortable, and occasionally overwhelmingly disappointing…the flip side is that it is sometimes perfection, and pure unimaginable joy, and like everything else about being alive, it has its ups and downs.

22 hours or so from now, my “baby” is another year closer to 40 than 30…and I was thinking this morning, whether you are 37 weeks pregnant and patiently waiting for your whole life to change with this birth, or your toddler is 37 weeks old and you are waiting patiently for the terrible twos to finally be over because nobody told you about the terrible threes, or you are the mother of a 37 year-old elementary school teacher and patiently waiting for her life to get easier after her recent divorce, the FEELING is the same…the burning love is imprinted on your heart once you find out you are pregnant and you commit to the choice to carry a pregnancy and decide that you are going to become a mother. From that moment on, the moment you make that choice, there is a before and an after of every single part of your life…

Whether you birth a baby, adopt a child, or have a surrogate carry and grow one for you, once you are a mother, however you have come to the title, you can’t go back to being anything else. Even if you want to put yourself first, it’s impossible, because this other person, or these other people are now the most important people in the world, and every one of their needs is more important than yours…at least this has been my experience of life. Once I heard my sister quietly say “it’s a girl” I knew that the girl I once was was forever to be put on the back burner while I took care of this pink hatted bundle the nurse handed to me…how it has been 37 years seems impossible, but it is so…

When my daughter was four-years old, and my life was very hard, and not very happy, I was at work one day and a very wealthy and well known local restaurant owner came in to the gallery. My boss and I nodded to each other and we greeted her warmly as we had not seen her in many months. She used to be a “regular,” but had recently suffered the death from brain cancer of her little girl, who was the exact same age as my little girl. I had written this woman a note of sympathy and mailed it when I had heard the news but this was the first time I had seen her since the child had died, and I was teary and uncertain if I would accidentally say the wrong thing, so instead I walked up to her and reached for her hand and looked her in the eye and told her how very sad I was for her sadness…At that moment, looking into her eyes…she was beautiful and blonde and rich and “famous” on the little island where I worked, and she had EVERYTHING a 22 year-old struggling, single working-mom, college student could want to be very happy…BUT one thing…it was a moment of such clarity for me, the realization that at that moment, I had a healthy vibrant four-year old little girl and pretty much nothing else, and she had everything but not a healthy little girl…

I want to say that I was forever changed that day, and in many ways I was…I still suffered from envy (my worst character flaw, but we won’t talk about that today) over the years; girlfriends who got married to successful men who provided them with a bigger and better life than I had, women who were able to achieve their dream jobs that I was unable to attain, vacations people got to go on, silly stuff I guess, looking back on it all …but the one thing that always was in the back of my mind, and is to this day, was that that woman, all those years ago, in her fine clothes, with her flawless and huge diamond ring, and her expensive European car, and her handsome husband, and upscale restaurant, would have gladly given up ALL of what she had, to have the one thing that I did…

It’s a burning love, the love for a child, whether it’s a wee one or an adult, and the desire to protect and nurture and cheer-on never wanes…this daughter of mine, the woman next door, this mother of my granddaughters, is a big love that I have always felt so deeply, and yet never could put into words, even now, as I suppose is the case with all mothers; we feel it, but we can’t explain it…On this morning, the day before my daughter’s birthday, I can’t help but think about the restaurant lady, and Priscilla, and these women who had the riches and the luxury and all the goods for a good life, and yet today, with my daughter as my next door neighbor and my friend, with her good health and good looks and good job, and healthy beautiful children of her own, I can’t help but feel like I’m the richest woman in the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s