Emotionally spent, 3 in the morning, the night before last, I wrote an Ode to what I didn’t know about being a mother before I was one:
My youngest is soon off to school, farther away than I can reach him to hug in a day’s daylight.
I am not taking this well. Damn “the way things are supposed to be”.
This is my Ode. An aspiration to catharsis. No such luck, but the empathy of my mothers-in-arms has given me heart to share. These are my boys, as I feel them.
Who would know the journey of mothering would engulf me
How would I know that to live and breathe the wellness-satisfactions-frustrations- joys-disappointments and devastations of these beings would eclipse my own
In what way would I know the blazing consumption by a love so total that purpose would be them above all else
Who could know that the days of envelopment at the expense of who I thought I was, would be the most delicious and grateful hours and moments of me
How would I know that the wisest, whole-est, grandest me would come of them
How could I know that the strongest-saddest-bravest-selfless-happiest-warmest moments of my finite days would be them
Who am I without them, when before them I was so little and with them I was everything
What will become of me in the blessing of their launch into this world with the gifts and challenges my very greatest and most flawed self left in them
Without them with me.
My purpose-my heart-my soul- aches and overflows as they do those things for which I prepared and nurtured and loved into them.
My essence travels with them
All else is dust in breezes.
How could I know?
Hello. I’m Ellen, a mother, an artist, matriarch of an ADD family.
My early personal journey went zig zagging along, until motherhood in what was most certainly not, a typical way.
Then found was the artist, and, at 41, the discovery of whom else I was meant to be. Between art and motherhood it felt my purpose was defined. Complete.
Until my first child received his ADD diagnosis. I remember the revelation, the “ooh, aaah, that explains a lot”, not for him, but for me. I was now a mother with the newfound diagnosis for us both- he was 7 ish- (diagnostic case in point), and I was 48, or thereabouts.
Twenty-one months after “the baby with intensely staring eyes”, came my 2nd boy. A sleepy Sumo with attitude. Both brought home on oxygen despite full-ish terms and enormous infant girth. Ultimately diagnosed. A different version, ADHD, for my younger son.
The breath soon became ordinary for both, but we don’t use the word ordinary often in our little world.
To this day, should I see a parent standing at a street corner WITHOUT their young child and toddler’s hands held in white knuckled vice grips, I still shake my head. The tang of fear reactivates as I wait for the bolting-and-lagging, fervently watching traffic in all directions, and I think, “they had different kids than I”.
I have the same thought as other parents brave their 3rd child. That adventure would have been beyond me. ADD, and its on-and-off the spectrum label, has been ever present, a curse, a gift. The subsequent unanticipatable family journey has been ours to share.
As most such parents have, I learned to be both rock and bendable willow branch throughout these days and years. This is how we roll. The voyage has been extraordinary. And many days, I was a puddle.
As my boys approach launching, I am a puddle, yet once again. I wouldn’t trade very much at all.
So much love and beauty in these years. There were times, many, that my mettle and my mothering were put to the test. Some days, both failed, and yet here we are.
Love has supported, conquered, abetted, nurtured, accepted.
Images painted by their mother,
Ellen Liguori – Calgary, Alberta.
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