ribbon

my daughter searched through my coat pocket while we waited to eat lunch inside chipotle sunday and discovered the blue ribbon i’d received the day before at the opening retreat for the online class, the contemplative practice of motherhood. the ribbon symbolized the journey of motherhood and the tethering of the others in the class together. she was curious about what it meant and as i replied to her, she set about wrapping it around my left wrist and tying it there. it felt natural for her to explore putting it on me and i was glad she found a space for it as i hadn’t yet thought where i’d leave it. and it was this same child who wrapped the symbol of my mothering journey who would, hours later, bring me to a place of mothering that is the rough stuff; the fraying.

the ribbon symbolized the journey of motherhood and the tethering of the others in the class together. she was curious about what it meant and as i replied to her, she set about wrapping it around my left wrist and tying it there.

i could see that with the words i spoke, ‘time to finish your homework’, i awakened the anger side of her anxiety. i’m never certain when the beast of anxiety will show itself with her—often it’s the sadness of anxiety we encounter most. but with the thought of another school week and with the particular kind of homework she had left to do (reading), the anger took hold. it grew fists and a face of rage. and it was in control coming right for me. i asked her to ‘throw her angry feelings away’ and breathe deeply; skills we’re working on. but that was not what the anger wanted. so i took hits and kicks, trying to reason with her. i twisted my arms around her and grabbed hold, pinning her to the ground. begging. but there wasn’t any room for rationalizing. not for this 9 year old who was only seeing red.

soon, her dad came downstairs and stepped between us, cradling her over onto the couch. sitting with the anger until it released to him our child.

i descended into the basement finding the cool and open space, giving myself over to tending my wounds: the wounding of my heart. i sobbed. i would much rather use my bruised arms to hold her. i would much rather sit beside her and breathe deeply. i tried to comfort myself, wishing for bigger mama arms to hold me for awhile.

i checked on my other daughter and asked what she saw and observed between her sister and i. she shared her worry and i hugged her.

it was later that night, when my oldest was calmer and only wanted the attention of her dad, in the stillness of my bedroom, i pounded off a steaming and exhausting text to my friends. '‘there’s not a fucking thing that’s holy about this mothering experience today [regarding the violent/protective interaction with my oldest]! i’m just tired.” i didn’t want any comments. i know that they would have said some of the most supportive, loving words. but what i needed for them to be for me was those bigger mama arms; rocking me, shushing me, holding me.

the following day i allowed myself to sink into the prayer of examen, a meditative prayer that was lead by my friend, pre-recorded for our contemplative practice of motherhood class. i looked at the desolate, lonely, scared places of my day acknowledging the pain on my body and the pain of an aching mothering heart encased in guilt and worry. but then i also allowed god to show me the parts of my day that were filled with light: remembering {S}’s fingers wrapping the ribbon around my wrist. the comfort of be wrapped. her strong, delicate fingers that found comfort on my arm. our connection. my connection to her as mother, and the reminder that i’m tied to other mothers who are also finding their way.