Tuesday, March 14, 2006


On this day, my mother was born to a twenty year old girl and her blue eyed husband. The firstborn girl--very much loved and very much wanted by this young couple just starting out their lives together. They were young, like we've all been young...running on faith that their family would grow and hold their dreams in its willowy arms--the first child...a new branch on the tree.

Firstborn children are the ones we expect so much from. We pour every ounce of our energy, passion, and fear into their sweet baby palms until they overflow with rivers of ambition and promise.

By the time my mother turned four years old, she was a sister. Finding these photos today broke me open--they were taken on her fourth birthday itself, neatly labeled the way most firstborn's pictures are. Here, you see the impish smile my mother still wears today. This little girl is in charge of the whole world...no hesitation. Strength in the way this four year old stands there--her hand on her hip. Strength in the way my mother has stood for all of the years in between--whatever life has thrown at her.

A young woman knows the taste of her own dreams...bittersweet and green...
Taking charge of her life, she somehow loses the ability to be taken care of. The delicious hours of mudpies yield to the sculpting of an identity. Work, love, family...she wants to prove herself. She wants to carve out a new path. She is heartbreakingly beautiful, like my mother here. We children forget the lives our mothers led before we existed. These women were born the moment they gave birth...to think of anything else means to place yourself in a timeline of generations in which you are only one small life...one off-shoot of a family tree far greater than you can imagine--a giant sequoia of history and new growth.

She has children of her own...then grandchildren, loving them fiercely as my own mother always has. Here she is with her first grandchild--another firstborn girl born to her firstborn girl to herald the start of another generation. These children are stars in her life--they illuminate the whole sky. As a mother, mine gives us a steady, unshakeable Earth to root upon...as a grandmother, she lifts the children up so they can see the wonders of their own light. A mother's body is an ecosystem...veils and flowers matted in green hair going dark--mossy brambles of another birth. The mother is a tree herself, crowned with fruits...then, crimson and rust. How often we forget the boughs from which we came--nestled in the heart-wood--our independence willing the cradle to fall. The best mothers...like my mother, gently sing us back to sleep and send up blossoms after countless frozen Winters. Reminding us--thank you, Mom, for always doing this--of the potential for another season of life.

Happy Birthday.


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