Sunday, April 12, 2015
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
My poor Norfolk Island pine is dying. I bought it in December to use as a Christmas tree in the grand Snoke tradition, but it hasn't fared well in the months since. I want it to live so much.
It needs to live. Not only do I hate letting living things pass away needlessly or due to negligence, but I also want it to live because of my mother. There is no single object on this earth that carries stronger associations with my mother for me than a Norfolk Island pine. Some of my earliest memories involve her love for her own pine and in my head I can clearly hear her voice rapturing over the pretty plants.
My mother causes things to grow and live, and she is a nurturer to the core. Sometimes this scares me. I don't see in myself the same intense desire to nurture. Sometimes there is so much more of my father than my mother in me, and he is the complete yin to her nurturing yang. For a while, I thought that centering everything in my life on the gift and desire to nurture was what I wanted to do, and ultimately what God wanted me to do. It's much of what took me into ministry. But it has completely drained me. For a while, I thought I was so much like my mother in this way; but in recent years, I've had to realize that I am much less so than I once imagined.
But my dad associates my mother's particular gifts with womanhood generally. In his mind, what she is is what all women most naturally are or want to be. Because my mother is a natural mother to all, he imagines that somehow these are the gifts all women have within themselves to bring to the table of God's economy. But I don't know if I can do it. Both my mom and my dad are inside of me, but everything in me that reflects my dad so often feels illegitimate.
And so I often end up afraid. I am afraid of becoming everything that my mother is because it's not everything I want to be or know myself capable of being. And I am afraid of not becoming my mother because she is to my mind, and to so many other people's minds, everything that a woman should be.
In the space that occupies these conflicting fears, I find my houseplants. They are small expressions of my attempts to be my mother. They allow me to connect to her, to feel I have something in common with her. But they are small, and in the end, extemporaneous to my life. They somehow allow me to be like her without really addressing the bigger callings of my life.
So they need to live. My Norfolk Island pine needs to live. Otherwise, not only am I lost to who my mom is in the larger, spiritual gift of nurturing, but I am also lost to it in the small, tangible spaces.
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About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.