01 July 2008

Time is a Mother's Enemy

Lately I've been reading books in which the characters are brave, intelligent, strong mothers.

The book I just finished is The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. The book tells the biblical story of Dinah, daughter of Leah--the only surviving daughter among the twelve sons of Jacob. It is a fascinating tale of motherhood, midwifery, biblical culture, and the sufferings and joys of women.

Late into the book Dinah gives birth to a son, and the author beautifully describes the joy of a first-time mother.

"Just as there is no warning for childbirth, there is no preparation for the sight of a first child. I studied his face, fingers, the folds in his boneless little legs, the whorls of his ears, the tiny nipples on his chest. I held my breath as he sighed, laughed when he yawned, wondered at his grasp on my thumb. I could not get my fill of looking.

There should be a song for women to sing at this moment, or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name that moment. Like every mother since the first mother, I was overcome and bereft, exalted and ravaged."

And later, she says this:

"Every day, I kissed my fingers and touched the statue of Isis, offering thanks to distribute among the multitude of Egypt's gods and goddesses whose stories I did not know, in gratitude for the gift of my son. I gave thanks every time my son hugged me. . .The days passed sweetly and turned into months, consumed by the endless tasks of loving a child. I had no leisure for looking backward and no need of the future.

I would have stayed forever within the garden of [my son's] childhood, but time is a mother's enemy. My baby was gone before I knew it, and then the hand-holding toddler was replaced by a running boy."

Often when I am out and about with my boys, older women will stop me, look longingly at my children while thinking of their own, and say, "time goes so fast--cherish every moment." or, "my baby is now 25 years old--enjoy each day".

Although being a mother is often challenging, I am so grateful for each day and each precious moment I have with my boys. They too, are growing up so fast.


Emily said...

I REALLY needed to read that today, so thanks Kristine!

As challenging as it may be, I know the good far outweighs the bad. And it's true, they do grow up too fast!!!

Kari said...

Thanks for sharing those beautiful thoughts.

With the birth of each of my children, I want so badly to freeze the moment and never let them change. I start lamenting the loss of their littleness before we leave the hospital because I know they grow up so fast (though sometimes it seems like it couldn't go by fast enough!)

Emilee said...

wow. i always feel like time is already going too fast. cb can practically sit up and it feels like he was just born yesterday. it's like bittersweet cos i love the new things he learns but miss the snuggly little ball he usedd to be.

Tara said...

What a beautiful post! I am totally putting that book on my goodreads list. Thanks!

Heth said...

Wow! It is always good to get a reminder! Thanks for sharing.

Lis said...

And here I am, missing all that growing up on the opposite coast. Sigh.

Remember the Peanut onesie? He used to fit in that!


It's so true. It passes so quickly. Some moments I just want to freeze frame. Anyone have any suggestions on how to stop it? Only on the good days of course!!

Marie said...

Ilove this. I will be reading this book. Thanks for the great review!