Saturday, March 29, 2008

On Motherhood

“One evening, sitting outside the garden in the dusk, I realise that three months have passed and that summer has come. My daughter is lying on a rug looking at the leaves above her. She wriggles and kicks her legs and laughs at things that I can’t see. She has red hair and bright eyes. I know that in some inarticulate way I have over the past weeks witnessed again her birth; that the sound of her past agony, her despair, was the sound of a terrible, private process of creation. I see that she has become somebody. I realise, too, that the crying has stopped, that she has survived the first pain of existence and out of it wrought herself. And she has wrought me, too, because although I have not helped or understood, I have been there all along and this, I suddenly and certainly know, is motherhood; this mere sufficiency, this presence. With every cry she has tutored me, in what is plain and hard: that my affection, my silly entertainments, my doting hours, the particular self I tried to bring to my care of her, have been superfluous as my fury and despair. All that is required is for me to be there; an ‘all’ that is everything, because being there involves not being anywhere else, being ready to drop everything. Being myself is no compensation for not being there. And accordingly, the whole peopled surface, the occupation of my life has been swept away by her cries. That she has stopped crying I take as an indication that she judges my training to have been successful and the rank of mother attained; a signal that we can now, cautiously, get on with the business of living together.”

A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mom by Rachel Cusk

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