Today, October 22nd, is my birthday. Every year, my mother reminds everybody she knows of the day when I was born, the going to the maternity… She has even kept the dress that she had worn at that date. In that time, in the colored and hippie seventies, pregnant women en vogue used to wear a very short trapeze dress, made of the same cloth as their panties – the idea was to show them!
A birthday is a day to remember a lot of things, indeed. It includes things that didn’t happen specifically at that day. And, the same way that my mother remembers my birth, I also remember the birth of my children and the things that we have been experiencing since I became a mother.
But today I’m going to talk about a particular aspect: the mother-daughter link.
A month ago, I woke up in the early morning. I had had a clear impression of hearing my five-year old daughter crying. I went to her bed, but she was sleeping calmly. In the next day, I woke up again. This time, she was sitting on the TV room sofa, in the darkness. When I got closer, I noticed she was crying softly, because of an earache. The dream of the night before had been a presage. I was surprised and said to her: “You can ALWAYS call mom, always.” She hadn’t wanted to wake me up. And I automatically remembered that I had done the same thing, the same way, when I was her age. I had had earaches in the early morning and had been crying inaudibly in the darkness of the corridor, beside my parents’ room door. EVERY TIME, my mother had opened the door. She had heard my crying with her heart ears.
So, I remembered another early-morning episode. My daughter was seven months old. My husband was travelling. I jumped out of bed, in dread. No sound. But, when I got closer to the cradle, I saw my daughter having a respiratory crisis. It was 1:30 A.M. I took her, wrapped her in a blanket and went quickly to the hospital’s emergency room. There, a doctor diagnosed her with stridulous laryngitis, a disease that usually scares parents because of the shortness of breath that the child has. She prescribed a bronchodilator. I didn’t dare to nebulize a baby so young. I decided to call my pediatrician, who is a homeopath, at 3 o’clock A.M. He asked me if I could stay awake the rest of the morning in order to give homeopathic medicines to my daughter every 30 minutes. It was what I did. In the next day, still in the morning, she hadn’t suffered from shortness of breath anymore.
Then, a new connection is created. On October 22nd 1972, my mother’s obstetrician was late and I was born 3 hours beyond the prediction. I needed to stay inside an incubator. In the early morning, my mother couldn’t sleep. She called a nurse and said that something was wrong. The nurse didn’t pay her attention, but the incubator had actually interrupted the oxygen flow. The nurse reestablished the flow and recommended that my mother slept. But who can rest, this way? Later, she called the nurse again, who replied saying that she had already solved the problem, and my mother was worried for nothing. For the second time, however, the incubator had stopped sending oxygen.
What can explain these facts? What does this link mean? I don’t know, I just feel. And, the more we give ourselves to this sensibility, the more accurate it is. This is a certainty that comes from inside. From God. From mother to child, from father to child, from a brother, from a friend, from people linked by ties as tenuous as they are powerful.
After my children were born, I wished to receive the same lap that I had been giving them. The same lap my mother gave me. I wished to go back to being a little girl, living with her again; I wanted her to be more than a visit. I wanted to prolong the image of perfection of her presence in my childhood that I nourish even now. But, if I look forward to getting rid of the pressure of being a perfect mother nowadays, I found that I also must liberate her from the same demand. It’s a great exercise of comprehension, of self-forgiveness. As she is used to saying: “forgive me if sometimes I failed, because I didn’t know how to do it, because I couldn’t do it. It’s because half of me is love… and the other half, too.”
Today, on my birthday, I want to reinforce all of these links and repeat what I heard in a beautiful pre-birth ceremony:
“I want to honor the womb from where I came. The womb where I am. And the womb that exists inside of me.”
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This post in Portuguese: De mãe para filha, originally published on October 22nd 2010