The Lotus Connection
Saturday evening at Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others, Jenny Laird, my neighborhood Buddhist mamaholyladyplaywrightfriend, regaled us with the story of a car ride with her stepson. That 17 year old boy, clad in bullet-studded belt and earrings was not huggable on that particular day. Her story recalled Jenny feeling “launched from the lotus”. If the lotus is the lap of serenity, then that lap is far from many a mother of teenagers.
As I write this I recall the sensation of my daughter, a densely beautiful baby. I can smell her orange and lavender scented diaper crème, her chubby feet kneading my thighs, wedging her heels in to the flesh of my legs which are curled round her as we fall asleep together at naptime.
Serenity dwelt there. I was the lotus.
I recall the instant shot of bliss that comes when she winds her fingers around mine.
From the time she was a tiny pack of joy to now when her lanky self slinks over once on a Blue Moon to linger fingers, I am shot with joy as a tapestry with golden floss, my interior illuminates. This happens not often enough to quell my ache to be close to her.
This week, I got to hear (and hug) Gloria Steinem. Students from MCLA in North Adams and people from around the Northeast packed the auditorium. The photo from Berkshire Magazine captures Gloria’s joy. I got to hear my She-ro say,
“God may be in the details, but the Goddess is in connection.”
Has she been reading my journals? When my eldest was a baby I had a revelation while looking at a palm tree, where I learned that God was indeed, in the details. That story resides in Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers. But to hear Gloria add “but the Goddess is in connection” illustrates very personally what happens when women connect their inner life to outer expression. It speaks to the holy necessity of telling our stories, of making art from our ordinary lives.
I hunger for connection with my girl, for the Goddess to dwell between us.
I lay listening to the house from my warm bed on this cold morning. The floor is so cold I hear my girl clunking around the kitchen in boots. Sometimes she does not adjust the heat when she gets up early and I find her writing at the kitchen table dressed in everything she can reach including a hat and a hood. Today, I listened to her pursue her thoughts as she prepared for an on-call about Catch-22 in her lit class. She dogged her dad with clarifying points, hammering out her naive but insightful thoughts until she had something of a case to be made about the way violence is portrayed in the opening chapters of the book.
I just happened to have been in a room with Gloria Steinem the previous night and heard her talk about the normalizing affect domestic violence has on the children who grow up in homes infested with this plague in our culture. People exposed to domestic violence as children, are more likely to carry violence out in to the world. The early and consistent exposure lessens their inner boundaries and protective devices. Violence becomes a normal part of human discourse. Domestic violence habituates a hierarchic society, where one can dominate another. It puts the ladder of ascendance firmly in place urging others to climb on the shoulders of others to rise.
There is nothing of a circle of community in a hierarchy.
So I hustle down, wrapped in a sweater to lean on the kitchen counter, squeezing a lemon, grating ginger, mixing in a swig of apple cider vinegar and a stir of raw honey in to my morning cup. Perhaps I can offer something to her query? Maybe I can make a connection here, from Gloria to my girl? I wondered to what is my daughter being normalized? What conditions exist in our household that she will carry in to the world? As a teen-ager, her better qualities are sometimes hard to identify, so hidden is she behind silence and distraction. The temporary squalls that drive ocean waters between us make me cling to the rocks of beauty in our collective past. Back in the day when she’d reach for my hand crossing the street, holding my hand for miles as we walked cities or country roads. I once felt as woven to her as I do to my own skin. Today, when she burns the dinner I carefully leave for her, trying to meet her dietary and taste needs while giving her space for an evening alone doing homework, I find it hard to locate our common heart.
The fact that my friends and the books I read tell me that this behavior is grossly normal, to be expected, that she is finding her own ground and claiming her independence does not lessen the sting of her disdain. The contrasting moments when she leans in to kiss my cheek, wants to borrow my sweater, wants me to rub her back glare against the ones when I find my boots scrunched down at the ankle because she failed to untie them as she wedged them off her own feet, they singe my eyelashes when I notice the note I left her cast aside with hairy hair bands and bobby pins- all set to foul the clothes washer and my heart.
If I apply Gloria’s rubric of casting aside categories and dwelling in the facts, maybe this is easier. Maybe I shall not expect warmth from someone with cold feet. Maybe I shall not expect interest from someone entirely preoccupied with her own life. Maybe I can wait this stormy sea out.
Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. You have to have sturdy legs for the tossing seas. That is why I do yoga.
With this post, we welcome Pippa Best to the Out blog series once again. Writing from Cornwall, England, Pippa brings her filmmaker’s eye to her writing, seeing with her words the importance of her creative life and all she makes as a result of that. Pippa and her mother Penny met me in New York City in December at the Museum of Motherhood to make FeMail art and celebrate the Anthology. Here is a video of that event, with Anthology author artist Lori Landau at the helm making a poem from found words from An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice.
All this making continues. As Pippa says, we are made by motherhood.
If you’d like to play with me on Instagram and Facebook, tag posts and images of what you make daily with #WhatDoMothersMake.
Let this celebration continue!