On Motherhood

From  Karla Perez Scarff – original essay.

On Becoming A Mother

by Karla Perez Scarff

My parents’ deeply dysfunctional marriage culminated in a horrific divorce that spanned two countries and decades filled with wreckage.  I was a child who understood losses incomprehensible: a father, a country, the notion of safety.  As I grew up, I tenaciously fought for a life of stability; I set my eyes on the horizon and followed the most direct path to the life I dreamed of.  I went to college, fell in love, became a teacher, married my love, got a dog and a house.

Believing I had it all after having so little left me chasing my own tail, getting lost in the silences that crept in at our dinner table.  The house seemed too bright by day, exposing all its empty corners and echoes.  At night, I remained awake to hear the sounds of night in the desert.  I would stare down the stars, demanding answers to questions I did not want to pose—Why all the silences and echoes?

For years, I occupied my days with the attainment of experience, wisdom, things.  Round and round I went, until the routine lost its meaning.  My life was so quiet and orderly, I found myself inventing drama between me and my husband—could he be cheating?  Did he think I was fat?  But no matter how hard I tried, I could not catch my own tail.

One fateful night, I awoke to find myself at peace.  I went outside to consult the stars, and for the first time ever, I felt safe in the life I had built, far from those days of lacking so much and making do with so little.  Our first child was born almost exactly nine months later, a perfect little boy who is now two; our beautiful baby girl was born five months ago.

I have been a lonely child, a teenager wanting to belong, a young woman chasing dreams, an adult longing for something beyond dreams, and because of all this, I have grown into a loving mother.  It is indescribably liberating to focus on someone else, at last.  It is with relief that I welcome my toddler’s peanut-buttery kiss and relish the feel of my baby’s gums latching onto my cheek, demanding milk that will not come.  At night, I obsess over developmental milestones— Does “rawrr” count as a word even if only I understand it as “water”?  Is it really sitting up if Nataly is propped up by her own chubby thighs?

The spotlight is gone from myself.  I gather the brightest, best parts of who I have become to light a path for my children.  There came a time when I wondered if life was worth the trouble, I know now that the answer is a resounding “yes” if it means that I can help my children grow into themselves.  Will Nataly learn the recipe to my enchiladas?  Will Nicolas measure the women in his life against me?  I can’t wait to find out, and for this, I am thankful.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kenna
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 21:40:31

    Beautiful. We’ve never met, but this essay means more to me than words can say. Thank you for sharing it.

    Reply

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