Original image by aussiegal via Flikr.
One of the kindest things we can do for another human being is to be present. To be fully in the moment, listening to them, seeing them. It’s our greatest honor to be able to bear witness to one another’s existence. Saying in words, in glances, in heartfelt gestures, “You matter. You mean something.” We must do this for no reward, not out of demand or requirement or with expectation, but as a gift to one another. And not just in the grand moments of life involving celebration or tragedy or monumental transition. Bearing witness takes placesin standing by during the boring moments of everyday life because even in those there are memories, there are stories.
As a mother, I feel a tremendous responsibility to see my daughters with eyes and heart wide open. To be sure they know their lives will never go unnoticed because I will notice. It’s a holy task for a mere mortal. It’s a constant exercise in silencing the noise which distracts us so frequently from truly seeing i n t o one another. I am blessed to be able to stand by them on their life’s journey from the very beginning. To witness them blossoming into themselves, developing opinions, testing boundaries, discovering their emotions, power and voice…to be there every step of the way as they navigate this very grown-up world.
I am also keenly aware they have spent their entire lives by my side, observing, witnessing my journey as a mother. As a mother. It’s all they’ve ever known. Me as mom. There is knowledge there of a life before them but it’s just a foggy prologue to today. In their tender hearts, they have yet to fully realize how long life’s journey is and how every moment, every choice, every experience lends itself to a future self.
I will be bestowed with a passenger’s memory of their journey, of how they came to be. I will have stood by as they have written the stories of their lives. I, on the other hand, must make a conscious decision to share my own journey, my stories with them so they may understand how I’ve come to be and how I continue to grow into myself.
This is my project for 2013 – to tell the stories of life before motherhood, the stories which have made me who I am and the stories I continue to live right before them but which elude them. So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first? Every Saturday in 2013, and perhaps beyond, I’ll be answering a question, journaling my life stories. The topics will cover everything from nicknames to first pets to first travels to favorite books to most memorable moments with my own parents – it’s been a long and full life so far so there’s plenty of ground to cover.
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me. My vision is to write for a year then publish all of my Saturday posts into a book to share with my daughters. I see this as a project in honoring myself and also in nurturing the writer in me, to do the kind of writing which most naturally flows from me.
Every month I’ll be sharing 4 – 5 questions so you can go ahead and write them at your own pace. Each Saturday I’ll post my story in the early morning with a link up option at the end of the post. If I get creative and figure out how, I’d like to create a pretty download for each month to inspire us all. Here are the questions for January:
1/12 How did you get your name? Did you always love it? Have you ever wanted to change it?
1/19 What did your childhood bedroom look like? Give a tour. How did it change as you matured?
1/26 What was your favorite home cooked meal as a child? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.
Take complete creative liberty with these. This is about remembering and breathing life into our memories. See you next Saturday!
While I’m giddy with excitement over this labor of love, I’m at a stand still for what to name it, though. The title of this post, “Mom Before Mom” seems accurate but I’m not sure if it gets to the heart of it all. I’d love your suggestions for a name for my little project. Leave your ideas in the comments. Tune in next Saturday to see what I name her!