Monday, June 03, 2013
My mother was a nurse. For more than 20 years she took care of newborn babies at the University of Tennessee hospital. By the time I had Juliana at 19, mom was head nurse of the newborn nursery and gave her first grandchild her first bath there. In the same nursery where she had rocked thousands of babies, prayed for each one I am certain, stayed awake with them through nightshift after nightshift (so that she could be with her own during the day), assured their new mothers, and even rocked some babies that were born addicted as they died. I always wondered how you could have a mother that wasn't a nurse. How did that work? Didn't you have to be a nurse to put a band-aid on just so, know exactly when to call the doctor and when to stay home, determine whether a fever was just a virus or a bacteria, know by the color of a child's lips if they should go to bed.
What my mother had as much as her gift of love and gift of care, was a gift of humility. I was first made really aware of this when Juliana was a brand new baby (1992). I was still living at home, before Jeff and I were married. In the days before she was born, mom had attended a nursing conference that shared new research of how to put a baby to bed..... after decades of putting babies on their tummies, it was time- the experts said- to put them on their backs. I will never forget the two of us, standing over Juliana's bassinet, staring at her on her back. Each of us sort of twitching at it. I could see in my mother's face that it seemed to go against everything that she had ever known. Yet she was willing to watch with an even closer eye, trusting all she had been taught, trusting her instincts too, but ultimately having the humility to learn something new in the hopes that eventually she could become accustom to what might be even safer still. She was about nothing if she was not about safety. But prevailing over all was her faith, and feeling humble or unsure for her simply meant praying more.
I could write forever about her attributes, but in these doses, I am so very focused these past days on what gifts they each were. In gift, I mean, that they were given to me. Given to my sister. Given to my brother. Given to my father. We now hold them. They are ours. I am not a nurse, but I am a mother who learned everything from her. And the hands that hold all my babies, do so with ease because of my mother and the gifts that she so unselfishly gave to me. I so often think of how she held newborns, with their back against just one of her long graceful inner forearms, back of their head cradled in her open, reassuring and strong hand, little legs left to do as they wished, little hands always tucked towards each other.... her other hand, rubbing the belly, and how she kept her face only a few inches away, talking, smiling, loving. It was a thing of beauty. I feel it in my own hold, and I yearn to feel it any minute as we await this little girl.
Juliana took these pictures of mom and I last summer. They are becoming an important part of replacing the suffering that is so raw in my mind with her health and her beauty. No one has ever accused me of looking like my mother, really, I am almost completely my father in visage. Yet, one of the many gifts of hers I am proud to own is smiling from within. Which to me is so evident in that last picture of us. We have how we smile so in common that we look identical. Thank you, Mama.
And thank each of you for your prayers, your thoughts, your words, spoken, written, or simply thought to yourself. It does help, and there are few ways to thank you really. But you should know how it comforts me. And for all of you who know just what it is to do this part of life, and those who anticipate it one day near or far, I send you my love.
Life is moving. It is a pace I've never known. The pace of mourning but also of rejoicing. It is all so miraculous that it hurts for reasons that are full of light and some that are still dark and low. I am a little more someone I recognize, but now so physically encumbered with this little one, pressing, and shifting, and threatening her arrival, that I am slow still. Perhaps the tempo of my heart has risen a bit. A new baby dress. A new patchwork cover for the rocker mom bought me 15 years ago for Nicolas. The last few rounds of a knitted romper. Yes. We are moving. Towards her.
With so much love, Anna
ps. Pierrette will be taking over much of my posting duties here at the blog for all studio-related posts. There has been too much exciting and pretty stuff happening to keep you in the dark, so I hope you are looking forward to some goodies, sales and updates here soon. The joy continues.