Little Arms

My family and I moved to Nashville so I can attend Divinity School and our son can grow up surrounded by music, progressive community and a church we love. My husband is also starting a new career after seven years of intense preparation. We are all glad to be here and at least one of us is also a little freaked out. “Will you be scared to go to your school?” my three-year-old asks, wondering if his own apprehension is okay to feel. “Yes,” I tell him, “because it matters a lot to me.” What I don’t say is that this will also be the first time my sweet son is going to pre-school every day and I will miss him. I fear losing our connection.

During the long hours of my husband’s training, I complained often about the resulting days of solo parenting. At times I felt desperate for a small break from lone responsibility for the all of the immediate needs of a small human being – entertaining, calming, teaching, feeding, protecting, bathing, changing, consoling and negotiating. There were bedtimes where I prayed for Divine intervention to help me through the last 30 minutes. There were regret and amends-making for losing my patience with my strong-willed boy.

Then I’d lifTandEsnugglingt up him up for our last hugs of the day, he would nestle his arms between us and rest his head on my shoulder, and I would be grateful for all of the two-of-us time. I get to experience feeling intertwined with his soul.

One morning after a wrenching pre-school drop-off with my son’s teacher hurrying me along and my child begging for one more hug, I went to yoga instead of my part-time job. My head and heart were torn in opposite directions “Should I have snatched him back and run out of the school? … They tell me he’s ok…. Am I failing him?… No, he loves being with friends…. A good mother would work during nap and at night instead of putting him in daycare.”

In the middle of class my teacher Meaghan told a Hindu tale of two sons:

One day Shiva and Parvati look out the window at their mango tree and see the most beautiful mango. They can’t decide to which of their two sons, Skanda or Ganesha, to give the mango. So they decide to have a contest: the fastest to race around the world will receive the fruit.

Skanda immediately takes off on his peacock around the world, while Ganesha sits down in meditation, perplexing his parents. Skanda returns ready to receive the mango. Ganesha arises from his meditation, circles his parents and says, “You are my world,” which earns him the mango.

I realized then that I am my son’s world – he is supposed to not want me to leave. My heart is supposed to ache when he aches. Being someone’s world, and doing it well, is a mighty purpose to fulfill. I fear that my stumbling and outright mistakes at parenting will scar him. I think, “if I only drink less caffeine, meditate more, do yoga but not be gone too much, stay by his side but not hover, keep him safe without filling him with fear, build a strong marriage, breathe, laugh, let go, hold him close” – maybe he will have a chance at a happy life and a strong sense of self.

I have now moved 1000 miles away from the hug of my own mother which, fortunately, is imprinted on my heart and my nervous system. As my son’s world opens further at his “Nashville preschool” (as he calls it), I pray that he will feel my love even when he is away from me. I recently met several Divinity School classmates for the first time and while listening to them talk about meaningful things – conversation I have long craved – I knew I had made the right choice to go back to school. After a couple of hours though, I drove home yearning to be with my husband and my child, who are my world.

I have been re-reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon for an infusion of the Great Mother before I dive into Christianity (and Eastern religions) in school. As a woman wanting to feel my real Self, and a wife and mother wanting to accept my imperfection, I pray often that I may be held in Loving-Kindness, as Tara Brach suggests in Radical Acceptance. While meditating recently on what feels like this more feminine aspect of God, Jesus showed up and said, “Let me change form.”

Ok, yes, I will.

Be my mothering, dear Jesus, comfort my son and inspire his joy when we are apart. Hold me like my own mother would when my heart is torn. Show up on occasion as the Great Mother, please. I need Her and you.

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3 Responses to “Little Arms”

  1. Anne Ryan Says:

    It’s truly amazing to hear from you. Congratulations on your “new” journey. Please stay in touch…it has been a while. Take loving care. Anne Ryan, Charlotte, NC (we know each other from Womankind/St. James/Richmond, VA:)

  2. Aimee Says:

    Beautifully written
    Miss you

  3. Courtney Says:

    I absolutely cherish every word of this!!! You are speaking to my struggles and beliefs as a mama. Love you.

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