Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mother's Day

Often, I look at you and my eyes well, but I have to hide it lest you think I’m sad.

You’re not yet aware that emotions can be as vast and complex as a country, or as small and specific as the freckle on your leg. That each tear has a different DNA.

I wish, like all mothers, that I were a better one. More patient and giving. Selfless. That I didn’t have to fight so to give you all of my attention, my time. That I enjoyed cooking dinner, taking care of the house. Those aren’t empty words. I know I could do more.

I sometimes think I’d be more that way if I hadn’t discovered writing. Or if it hadn’t found me. Then I remember my own mom, and wish she’d taken a little more for herself when I was your age.

I’m still searching for the right balance of you and me.

But here’s the thing: I know you love me. And you know I love you. We say it, we buy cards that brocade it, and we give big bouquets of sunflower hugs and forget-me-not kisses that require no spring or holiday.

You are more than me, more than your Dad. You are the baby I nursed, the toddler he swung, the child asking, “But why?”

You are the breeze in my heart, the anchors to my legs, and the ocean of love that is the source of those tears.

I love you both. And thank you for letting me by your Mom.


Catvibe said...

Absolutely perfect Sarah. Happy happy Mother's Day to you my dear friends. Your children will cherish you forever for this, and for all the other wonderful things you do for them, and for yourself. I'm so proud of you, your wisdom in thinking these things and asking these questions shows that you are being a great mother, despite the doubts.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wonderful post. Fathers feel much the same way. Or at least I have.

Karen said...

I think your children will be happy to have a mother who does have a life of her own as well as a never-ending love for them. Think of the responsibility a child must feel if his or her mother has NOTHING else in life but that child. You may worry that you don't enjoy the cooking and cleaning; you never ever said you don't enjoy your babies.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sarah Hina said...

Cat, and a Happy Mother's Day to you, too (btw, I loved seeing Chris pop up on your blog!). :)

This piece came straight from that photo, but as you well know, there's little that's direct or clear cut about motherhood. Except that huge, huge love.

And thank you for your warm, supportive words. I loved what you said.

Charles, I'm sure that fathers struggle with, and find happiness in, much the same complexities and emotions. We're all the richer for being parents. :)

Karen, very true. And I've especially enjoyed them today. :)

For me, the struggle is always between the world inside my mind vs. the concrete reality in front of me. That tension can make me more self-absorbed than I'd like. But I know you're right about mothers needing to feel personally fulfilled. And it's good to hear it confirmed again. :)

Happy Mother's Day to you, too, my friend!!

James Oh said...

Sarah, your post came in timely to remind us about the Mother's great love. I agree with Catvibe - absolute perfect.

Well say and done. I can't find anything I can disagree with.

Grace and peace with you always,

Aniquez de los mil luces said...

I lovvvvved the pic... It says it all.

You are a great mom... yes, we can tell by your posts. (or you are the best pretender in the world... which is highly unlikely :D :D )

So a very Happy Mothers day to you!

And am sure they respect your dedication towards your writing as much as they love you.

And soon they'll be proudly sayin to everyone... "Know what? The writer of 'Plum Blossoms in Paris' is my mom!"

the walking man said...

I am willing to place a bet that the little folks you nurture will grow to be adults that you and the old man are proud of.

From this writing, though a learned skill, it would seem you have all the natural instincts to perform the parenting job well.

Hope it was a Sarah focused day.

Anonymous said...

That was so touching. :)

I hope you save this for when they're older. This kind of person-to-person expression of heartfelt sentiment is rare between parents and children. At least I feel that it is. It's hard to step away from the parent/child dynamic and talk as people. Beautiful.

Sarah Hina said...

James, that is very kind of you to say. I was a little overwhelmed by those maternal emotions yesterday, and felt in the outpouring of love for me, some need to return that deep, pure feeling.

Aniket (who's this other dude?? ;)), thank you, my friend. You shine those mil luces in all you say. :)

It is so true that as much as society focuses on parents wanting to be proud of their kids, that we also want them to be proud of us, too. So your words mean a lot to me.

Walking Man, thank you so, so much for that. It was a beautiful day. My heart was (and still is) very full.

Maybe we do need those holidays more than we think we do. I'm not one for paying a lot of heed to tradition or standard practices of gift giving, but all that indifference can fly out the window as soon as you see the eager smiles on your kids' faces.

Jason, I'm glad it touched you. :)

You make a really good point about stepping back to achieve perspective and equality in the parent-child relationship. I couldn't talk like this to them. Writing is a gift in both its clarity and its longevity.

A little funny to think of them searching through my blog archives someday, though. I hope they're kind to Mom! ;)

Aniquez de los mil luces said...

Joaquin gave me this name. Cool rite? :D

Sarah Hina said...

Very! I love it. :D

Jennifer said...

Sarah, this is stated so perfectly and incredibly tenderly. I can completely relate to your feeling pulled, and I admire you for the honesty in this post.

This is my own "selfishness": I am not good at volunteering at my children's school. I put my career on hold when they were born/adopted, attachment parented them, rarely used babysitters, etc- and now for the first time in years I have three hours a day to myself. And that's when I write. And I have no doubt that it looks selfish to the parents who are at school all the time, and probably the teachers, but there it is.

Do you think that it is the writing piece of it? That people think of it as a hobby? Because I think it would be different if I told people I was back to practicing law during those three hours.

And by extension do you think we feel differently about it, too? Does writing seem more optional, more of something you pick over of time with children (versus being a doctor or a lawyer)?

I think with your novel coming out, it is easier for it to feel "real." But before that, I'm wondering if we internalize the "this is a hobby" thing.

In any case, sorry I am late getting here and I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday! :)

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, you should definitely cut yourself free of that school guilt. I volunteered more last year, but gave up on it this year. There are so many other ways we can be present for our kids, though. And I have no doubt you're doing those, in spades. :)

That writing time is just as important as any job. Not money-wise, no. But I would be a very grumpy and frustrated Mom without that outlet. And I imagine it's the same for you. Even if society views writing as a "hobby" (horrid word!), we know it's more about identity, fulfillment, and yes, work, instead.

It doesn't feel optional to me anymore. But yeah, that doesn't mean the guilt ends, either. Which is why we'll continue trying to straddle that line.

(To be honest, too, so little time of my day is spent actually writing. I'm a very slow mover. But I can be thinking about writing for much, much longer, which can be just as distracting...okay, I'm really done now ;))

Thank you for the great comment, Jenniger, and I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day, too!! :)

Sarah Hina said...

Um, that would be Jennifer. :P

Jennifer said...

Sarah, I was just reading an interview with Alice Munro, who published her first book after age 35, and if you scroll down to the end,in the last long para, she responds to the interviewer asking her about the whole writing/children thing and even though it must have been different at that time (and she says it was) some of it still resonates--and it made me think of our "conversation" here... :)

I just read her short story "Runaway" last night and my mind will not release it!

Here's the interview:

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, I am embarrassed to admit that I've never read any of Munro's work. I really mean that, too. She's one of those names that I just know I should be intensely familiar with, but haven't broached her stories yet, for whatever dumb reason.

I think I'm going to have to rectify that. "Runaway" sounds like a good place to start. I wish I didn't already have a backlog of stuff to wade through, or I'd dive right in! :)

What she said about motherhood made me realize how lucky I am, too. We do have more freedom and aren't quite as burdened by societal expectations. Maybe we apply most of those expectations now, instead? I don't know.

But I was really struck by what she said about being home and "available." It is still hard for me to build that wall sometimes. Like right now, I'm listening to the ads on my son's TV program (he only goes to pre-school four days a week, in the morning). It's not quite that enveloping solitude I might prefer.

But I do think I'm pretty damn lucky, all the same.

Thank you so much for pointing this out to me!! I really enjoyed reading that interview, and I am intent on picking up Munro's stories now. :)

Jennifer said...

I totally get that available thing. I can blog (well, I could when I was actually blogging), read email, whatever if the kids are home, but I cannot really write. It's not just the solitude; it's the commitment. I feel like I can step away from an email or a blog readily, that I am not fully "gone." But writing feels like I am leaving them and psychological it's hard for me to get there.

For my own purposes, I liked how she expressed being comfortable with starting "later" in life, saying that before that she wasn't ready, she was practicing.

I can remember watching Jhumpa Lahiri being interviewed shortly after I had adopted my son and given birth to my daughter (yes, they happened at almost the same time) and I had just left my job (because, hello, they came at the same time! :) ) and I turned to my husband and said that's what I really want to do, but I feel so old. (I was 30.) So I found her words really reassuring--that it's okay to have done the kids/law thing first, that you can still get there. :)

Chris Eldin said...

So beautiful and particularly touching. It *is* very hard finding the right balance, but I have a feeling you're doing it much better than you know.

Cute, cute, cute children!!!! I love those moments!!!

I haven't read through the comments yet, but I hope Aine stopped by!

mermaid said...

Sarah, I only have one daughter, but the pull is often there between writing, meditation, singing, knowing myself and nurturing her. I love your beutiful prose and the honesty that lives within them. Keep writing and loving, your family and yourself.

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, I'm sorry it took me so long to reply again! Things have been a little crazy around here. :)

I've often thought I was a late bloomer to writing, too. But I've also considered that it could be a gift. I think I needed all those years to just absorb others' work, to know what sparked my passion, before venturing out on my own. Reading is how I learned, and I wonder whether if I had started earlier, I might have been so impatient to find success that I would have overlooked the opportunity to just be a student of fiction first. Patience can prevail, when it brings maturity and an authentic writer's voice along with it.

And then again, sometimes we just don't have the choice! Kids and families are their own stories to be written. :)

Thank you for this conversation, Jennifer. I've really enjoyed it, and am serious about picking up Munro now!

Chris, thank you for the comments regarding my kids!! As a mom, I just eat those up, of course. :D

I think we're all probably doing better than we know. And we need to cut ourselves some breaks in those moments of recognition.

Thanks, Chris. :)

Mermaid, your words are very kind and healing. In the end, self-recriminations can be like a poison slowly infiltrating the pool. Those kinds of damaging feelings can only hurt everyone around us.

Thank you so much for coming by.