7 May 2014

Breathing in the Scent of Motherhood on Mother’s Day


“Love children especially. They live to soften and purify hearts
and, as it were, to guide us.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Little snuffles and unfamiliar gurgles filled our dimly lit bedroom. It had all happened so quickly, not even our homebirth doctor had made it in time. I slumped back into the pillows, grateful to hear our daughter’s first few unaided breaths.
“She’s beautiful, she’s so beautiful,” her father said, choking on tears of pride. Our hands touched as he presented me with the whimpering bundle: gently placing the baby onto my concave tummy as if handling precious porcelain.
We felt completely awestruck, as witnesses sharing the miracle of life. He moved slowly, covering us both, our sweet little daughter snuggled close to my heart, and whispered, “Well done.”
I was unable to speak, and unable to see her in the dark. My hands traced over her tiny body, feeling every little bump and wrinkle. She was perfect. I began to hum the soft sounds of ‘Amazing Grace’, as my newborn rested and I breathed in, deeply, the contented scent of motherhood.

 As a visually-impaired and inexperienced mother I was petrified that I would accidentally hurt my newborn baby, especially when changing her cloth nappies with sharp pins. I had to feel my way carefully into motherhood.
Despite fumbling through the first few months, inadequacy was eventually replaced by confidence, anxiety became acceptance, chaos was transformed into welcome routine but the need for sleep was, still, the need for sleep.
Claire’s crying settled more and more as she grew older, giving us the confidence, as parents, to attempt going out for regular outings. One night at the local pub, we were enjoying our dinner with bubba-Claire sitting between us. Feeding her little portions from my plate, my fingers guiding me like an arrow to the target. All was going well, or so I thought, until her father calmly said,
“You know you are putting the potato salad in her ear?”
“Don’t be stupid!” I glared.
He leaned back into the chair, smiling, and took a swig from a glass of beer. I checked Claire’s face and almost died. It was true! Gooey mayonnaise lined the outside of her ear lobe because she had turned her head at the crucial moment.
“You do it, then,” I growled, and tossed the spoon in his direction. My hands felt for the edge of the table, planning to make my escape and dive underneath the tablecloth to cry with embarrassment.

“Tarry a moment to watch the chaos of a playground,
crayola-colored shirts of running children, all trying out their wings.”

Claire at four

Blind Parent, Sighted Child

At weekly General Assembly in primary school, parents and students shared in the giving of awards and mini-concert performances. I was happy to be part of the audience with the other proud parents, all of us eager to witness our children’s glowing achievements.
I pretended to see as I tried to take in the scene on stage but, in actual fact, the stage was a blur and the children on it all appeared like dancing red blobs. I had no way of recognising a single face or body shape.
I knew my child was out there somewhere. It saddened me so many times to miss all the visual activity, but other parents kindly described the unfolding scene, allowing for my rich imagination to draw a picture of some sort.
On one particular presentation day, an elderly woman sitting directly in front of me swung around with great excitement. “Look! See that girl over there, the one in the red jumper, that’s my grand-daughter. See her?” The grey-haired lady was falling sideways off her chair with pride and added, “The one in red.”
‘They’re all in red,’ I thought, amused.
“No,” I replied.
“The little blonde one, on the end.”
“You can’t miss her.” The woman was astonished. 
Oh yes I can.’ “No, honestly, I can’t see her.”
The grandmother waved her finger vigorously in the air. “LOOK.”  She spoke through gritted teeth. “Over there in the front row! Are you blind or something?”
“Actually, yes, I am.”
With a jolt of her head, she stared at me, contemplating whether I was just being difficult. Then swinging around to face the stage with her little princess on it, she muttered,
“Blind as a bat, if you ask me.”

Claire and baby Silver

You may also like to read –  I Spy with my Little Eye.

Do you have a Mother's Day story you'd like to share? We'd love to hear in the comments.

© 2014 Maribel Steel 


Harry Williamson said...

This is so touching for me

maribel steel said...

I am posting a comment I received via email on behalf of a friend, Amy bovaird, as she was experiencing some technical difficulties...her experience of motherhood is quite a contrast to mine and I dedicate this post to her.
Amy wrote...
This is beautiful, Maribel.
Just today I was feeling sorry for myself, thinking that I was a second-hand rose in my relationship. I really needed to read this, and look at myself
in a different light, not as a victim because of my vision but for the value I have.Thanks for the reminder!