The field spreads out green speckled with brown. A swath of flame-colored trees lies across it. Then the lines of olive hills and finally the pale blue mountains. The sky is washed out, grey dabs of watercolor bleeding into the white page. Below the water dimples with rain drops. In its depths, bass swim to winter hide-outs while trout move up and into the chill. This is the season of crisp air and leaves crackling underfoot. Women gather on the side of the road to cut and bundle thatch grass. The cosmos have already bloomed and faded.
This is the season of change, when each dawn uncovers a new palette. The trees and hills burn before my eyes and remind me of the invisible tide tugging at our world. This shift and turn is omnipresent, yet only occasionally does it sidle into our consciousness. Despite millennia of proof to the contrary, we like to believe that the state of affairs as we see them have some sort of stability or endurance. In our moments of strength we forget the weak, in our weakness we lose faith in strength. Sad wipes out happy and happy forgets sad. It can stretch our credibility to breaking point to believe ‘This too shall pass’.
Because no matter what we like to pretend, it will. Just as nature reminds us every day, every season, every year, life exists in cycles. There is no ladder to climb or goal to attain because everything you now have will one day slip from your grasp. No one escapes the tumbling cycle of life then death. Autumn is nature’s festive fiery wake for Summer’s life-force. She gives us faith, with her own familiarity and rhythm, that Spring will indeed return.
This month I weaned my daughter. For 39 months we shared the intimacy of our bodies joining and joined. It was a journey with many ups and downs, but one always awe-inspiring. I sustained her and comforted her with nectar from my own flesh. It became as natural to me as breathing, or picking her up when she cried. Around her third birthday, I started to feel some pressure to wean her. We talked and agreed that her birthday would be the moment of the change, but it sailed on by and she seemed quite prepared to ignore our previous discussion. It had been my suggestion, at my instigation, but in truth I was as happy to disregard the agreement as she. I grieved at the receding of her baby years. The loss of closeness wrenched at my heart. And so we continued. Who makes the rules of what is and isn’t okay? An arbitrary demarcation had not worked for us. And yet, three months later, the seasons shifted, more change sashayed into our lives and with no prior warning, she weaned. We went one day, then two, then a week. This time my heart felt full. The time it felt right and it was nothing like I had predicted it would be.
Sometimes it feels strange to cry at the lessening of need, at the sight of my child marching into the world, when at times her dependence has weighed like a stone. As mothers, it can be hard to admit how close we are to falling apart, how sometimes mothering just doesn’t feel fun or even possible. Children draw out our real selves, and there is no reality without impatience, pettiness, crossness and rage. We can’t hide this darkness from our children and yet they love us anyway. Maybe therein lies some key to the mystery of parenting, which knits together grief and joy until they become almost one and the same. The rhythm of swelling with child, then birthing and growing, then parting, has happened thousands of thousands of times since the first setting of the sun. My tears (happy and sad) leak through generations and spaces, connecting me with all mothers, with all beings riding round and round on the rhythms of our galaxy. I am not alone. You are not alone. We are woven into the fabric of flaming leaves and rushing streams, of ripening berries and sky-reaching trees. We know of love, and sadness, and beauty. We are here together.
*This post was sponsored by Colleen of the Midlands House of Healing. During the messy and demanding process of mothering, and birthing the mother inside yourself, it can help to seek out support. Once a month, my husband and I visit Colleen in her bucolic paradise, where flowers and plants burst out beside the road, insect noises hang heavy in the air and the mountains stand above, quiet and patient. We each have a full body massage and energy treatment, then swap places on the table and couch. Colleen tucks me up in a blanket, puts a cup of tea between my palms and a bowl of popcorn on the table. I lie back and watch a movie while I wait, and let myself sink into this nurturing cocoon. She reminds me that to love and nurture, I must love and nurture myself too. Mothers have much the same needs as their children, only we tend to grasp any wisps of weakness and squeeze them into insignificance. We like to believe only in our strength, or at least in our ability to keep pushing on. We forget it is our tenderness which allows us to love, and our own flaws which allow us to forgive.
Image source: By Oxfordian Kissuth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Hello and welcome:) I am a South African artist and mama who believes in mindfulness and living on purpose. I love traveling, reading, yoga, leading our family business, and eating delicious food in beautiful places. And tea. I love tea. Pour yourself a cup and settle in for a read.