Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children

The movie The Crow, contains one of the most moving lines about the mother-child relationship I have ever heard: ‘Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children’.

I think of this statement often at the moment, as I watch my eldest child, who is legally an adult, but emotionally a baby, make a mess of her life. When she fell over as a toddler, I picked her up, patched up her baddies, cuddled her and set her back down again, free to explore and play until she should fall again: I still do this, but her falls are potentially more dangerous, her baddies have the potential to scar in different, deeper, more painful and long lasting ways. Back then, I set the limits of her universe: now, I can be here to pick her up, but when I set her down again she must make her own limits.

Two days ago we had a painful, heart wrenching conversation, in which I told her that I cannot keep picking her up because I am at the limits of my own mental and physical strength and her current behaviour is threatening the health and welfare of her much younger sibling. I am to all intents and purposes a single mum, who works full time to support her family: the analogy I shared with her was that I often feel as though I am swimming across a deep lake with her and her brother on my back and that her flailing and splashing about threatens to drown us all. I told her that if this continues, I will have no choice but to take her brother and swim away, even though it will break my heart. She looked me in the eye and said ‘if you do that I will drown mum’. I know that this is true, but the only alternative is that we all drown and I simply will not let this happen. I told her this. She cried. I cried. She made me promises that I knew would be broken the very next day: I was right.

Someone very wise once told me that teenagers try to destroy their parents and it is their parents’ job not to let them. I can only pray that she is right and that in setting the hardest and most final of boundaries, the only one, in fact, that I have left at my disposal, I might somehow be able to keep my daughter safe, just like I did when she was a toddler. This poem is a little prayer, just for her:

Remember when

My hands were your nest

Stroking wisps of natal down

Turning the dead of night

Into a lactescent

Snow -white feast

Remember when

You landed

Under the full moon

Of my eyes

And took your

First steps towards

Arms as wide

As the sky

My love

The invisible

Intact umbilical

Is longer than

Any road away from here

Stronger than any

Harm which you

May do yourself

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children

  1. Made me tear up…love this…

  2. jaschmehl

    The path I took in life did not lead to children. Most of the time I don’t think about it, but there are moments when I know I have missed out on something. Your post about your child is full of pain, but it is a pain that I will never know because I have never experienced the love at it’s core.

    But we share a love of words and the courage to share them with strangers. I read your words and feel the sadness you pour into them. And I send these words back to you and I hope you can feel the hug in return.

    • Thanks for a reminder of the love ‘at the core’ of our relationship. I hope one day that we will be close again without it hurting. I have friends who have kids, and friends who don’t; I guess there are no right decisions, just decisions and consequences: if you’d had em, there would times when you wished you hadn’t and obviously visa versa. Thanks for reading, listening and understanding. I feel the hug: it’s a good one!

  3. I understand completely. I have a son in the same situation and I’ve had to make the same choice. It’s heart-wrenching.

  4. Oh, the hardest thing you can do as a mom. Hugs.

  5. You are pretty amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I think you must realise how much this has touched my very heart and soul.
    I remember those words in The Crow. There are hard decisions to make, people have told me of what I should or shouldn’t do and as a mother we take everything on board and go with our gut.
    So go with your gut my friend. Your poem was absolutely sublime.
    Email me if you wish..
    xx

    • Thanks ramblings…I did know that you’d get it and understand how deep the cut goes. I’m trying to trust my guts, but they’re all of a flutter right now. Just taking deep breaths and trying to get back on track so I can do what needs to be done…
      Hugs to you: the support of like-minded ones is a balm beyond belief x x

  7. Hello Face.
    I can only go on a handful of posts, but I’ll go out on a limb.
    If your heart can produce this poetry, and your mind is as perceptive as your writing suggests – then no child of yours will be too ill equipped to cope with life.
    I don’t doubt your daughter thinks she will drown, but I doubt she actually would. Our heads go under as we learn to swim, but we learn.
    Life is often a process of being forced to meet our deepest fears and being amazed when we survive them. We swear we will die, but we live, grow stronger, and then the next things comes and we swear we will die…!
    Speaking as someone who’s mother literally told him to F off and disowned him because I asked her for some honesty – I can feel in these words that you are instead coming from love, trying so hard – and while no child ever understands their parents sacrifice – she is a lucky girl who may come to see this when she is a mother herself.
    Have faith in yourself – have faith in her. You are beautiful, no matter what they say… oh no… ’cause I know in my heart that, my heart will go on… ahhhh… losing it… gramdma we love you! … heelllp! I’ve got the schmaltz!!
    (well, we need to laugh too 😉 )
    ((HUGS))

  8. Dais

    Sometimes I feel that one of the fundamentally hardest things for a teenage girl or boy to do when they have a struggle with their parents is to realise that they are their own people too. In the heat of an argument or even a constant underlying struggle, its easier to hate someone who is just there to set rules. Hence, when parents get emotional its difficult for the child to understand this, as to them they are a rock that they can beat against and lean against all at the same time and expect it to never move or erode away. But this is another lesson learnt, because even though parents are SUPPOSED to be there every second of the day, sometimes they have bigger things in their lives to concentrate on, and teenagers should see this as much as parents should see it about their children. Its sometimes easier to carry on the way we have been going for so long, even if we should have grown up by then, because we do not like change and we like the familiarity of the struggles we endure, because new struggles are even more scary. The biggest thing i ever learnt with my mother was forgiveness. One day your daughter will finally stop the bullshit, and thank you for every sacrifice you have made for her. This will teach her things to pass on to her daughter, and she will be grateful for this. Even if its easier to say she isn’t right now, I’m sure she feels it. She may just be too ashamed or find it too difficult to say it, because who wants to admit to making someone feel terrible? Rest your soul, switch off from it for a while and just trust that your beautiful clever daughter will get through this holding your hand, because when you come out of this lake the other side she will be a strong swimmer all by herself. And who knows, maybe one day she can ferry you across.
    Stay beautiful, and know there are people who love you very much for all the amazing things that you are.

    xxx

  9. Oh, this made me ache for a space in time when our beautiful children could return to the safety of small hands and legs…your words are just beautiful…XO

  10. the line is a quote from william makepeace Thackeray

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