A couple of weeks ago my husband and I noticed that the fur on our pup Scout’s cheek was wet. We had noticed it few days prior, but chalked it up to it being rainy and humid. Then we noticed that it was also sticky. When we tried to clean it, she yelped. We thought maybe she’d been bitten at doggie day care or had a bug bite. As the evening wore on she became panicked and then leapt onto my lap, all 55 pounds of her, big clumsy paws digging and scratching into my bare inner thighs (I was in my pajamas) as she thrust her head against my belly.
A feeling like no other welled up in me. Visceral. She needed me in a way I am not used to being needed. It’s a sensation I’ve pushed away most of my life. I’ve not ever wanted to be responsible for another being…a helpless being. A being that needs. It’s something I have avoided, on purpose, my whole life. Something I’ve been afraid of because it wasn’t modeled. There’s no way I could ever get it right.
(And I hear and see all of you mamas smiling and laughing…not at me…but at my naivety. As if any mother has ever been able to get it right. And yeah, I’m nothing if not transparent).
A little over a year ago, after seeing a photo of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wrapping her arms around the survivors of the Christchurch shooting, grieving with them and nurturing them, I felt a moment of deep sorrow and wrote this blog post:
I am mourning the lack of a model of unconditional Mother love.
My own mother once lamented something similar, her anger at her mother boiling over into grief.
I’m not alone.
In all my communities and circles, friends, colleagues, and clients have all been saying a different version of the same thing:
I need Mother love.
I need to be told that it will be okay.
That I am okay.
That I am chosen.
I need Her to wrap her arms around me and comfort me.
I need Her to show me how.
I need something I’ve never had from a Mother I never had.
We are living in a time so lacking in unconditional Mother Love.
We are still living in that time.
Mama. When he cried out for his Mama, I felt in my gut that he had called to me. Me. A white childless-by-choice woman who is reckoning with her whiteness. And you. And all women. Mama.
The unconditional love we crave is available to us because it is inside of us. It is inside of me. It is inside of you.
We do not have to wait for our imperfect human mother to change in order to receive it and feel it. Nor do we have to wait to be perfect ourselves in order to receive it and feel it.
You are okay.
You are chosen.
My arms are wrapped around you.
I am showing you how.
Cradle your lovely face in your hands for a few seconds and then place your hands over your heart.
And with your hands over your heart, repeat after me: I am here. I am alive. I don’t have to be any different than I am in this very moment in order to feel and receive love. I am choosing to love myself because…
…this is how I crack myself open and heal my wounds and grow up so I do less harm.
Notice the sensations.
Much, much love,
P.S. Scout is fine. She had a “hot spot” due to scratching as a result of a minor infection in her ear.