My last post was about two big things. I wrote about being MotherDoula, supporting my firstborn daughter having her firstborn daughter. The other big thing I mentioned, but did not go into detail, was moving from our home of 32 years. Now I want to share an experience about that as a Mother’s Day story.
Many years ago, I was clearing out baby clothes once again, after my third baby and my last. I sat on the playroom carpet sorting; visceral memories arising with pairs of leggings, tiny dresses and tee shirts. When I got to the shoes, I wept. It was so hard to put all of this “away”. It was my husband Peter’s brilliant idea to create a way to see the things I loved every day.
And so, I curated a collection of “firsts” of each daughter – Indy’s first moccasins, Hallie’s first paddock boots, Liberty’s first ballet slippers and leg warmers, first rain boots and umbrella, first Keds, party shoes, pocket book and gardening gloves.
I lovingly placed these treasures on the nineteenth century quilt rack above our fireplace in the great room where I would see them throughout my days from the kitchen, sitting in my rocker, eating at our table for years to come.
When it came time to pack up our home of decades, to strike the set where I had raised my three girls and myself, the absolutely very last thing to come down was that quilt rack with all of the firsts. I carefully and lovingly took each thing off the rack and stored them all together for some unforeseen future time in some unforeseen future context.
Fast forward to a year later in our storage unit in Burlington, VT. Indy and Dave are expecting their first baby and moving into a bigger apartment in Brooklyn. They are filling a U-Haul with much of our furniture and furnishings from the house. Indy gazes up at the tippy top of the storage unit and spots the quilt rack. She mentions that the big wall above their bed would be a great spot for it. Could they take it? She is sensitive to my split-second hesitation and says she totally understands if I don’t want to send it with them.
It takes me some moments to adjust my perspective. This quilt rack tells the story of my life as a mother. It is a part of my soul. And, I came to realize, I will be able to see it far more often in their home than in a storage unit.
“Of course you should take it.”
Now Indy hesitates, “But Mom, is it okay if I don’t take the shoes?”
In an instant, the longing and the clinginess disappeared, replaced by a clarity that I can only describe as an innate, timeless, Mother Wisdom.
“Indy, you cannot have the shoes. They are the story of my children and my life as a mother. You have to find your own children’s shoes, their “firsts”, to tell your own story as a mother.”
Happy first Mother’s Day to my Indy girl, who made me a mother on Mother’s Day, thirty-four years ago.
I can’t wait to see what you’ll put on the quilt rack first…
And Happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere; I am so grateful for you all in this perfectly imperfect, organized chaos that is motherhood.