My mother's words

My mother told me last week that, as a gift to her four children, she would be writing a few pages about each of her children's births and the lead-up to the day on their next birthday.

My eldest brother turned 44 mid-January, and my mother shared with me the six pages she wrote to him--in PDF version, mind you, so I could not edit the text. She is sneaky, that one...

My young mother

My young mother

My mother was 22 when she had my first brother, having experienced her early pregnancy in the heat of Quincy, California. She was, in essence, a child. But, somehow, always, a mother. She is an enigma in that way, maintaining the same childishness and motherliness today. What I mean by this is that she is still curious, gentle, amazed by small things in the world as if experiencing them for the first time, and yet she is also wise, nurturing and strong. This woman has weathered the world--this might be why she has settled into an awe of it still--and I have so far enjoyed reading my mother's words.

My mother writes about the blind date that paved her path toward a 19-year marriage with her first husband. She writes of the high school teaching job that brought her and her husband to Quincy from San Francisco, where she was born and raised. She writes of her entry into the world of meditation, "seeing, for the first time, portraits of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Guru Dev." I saw, for the first time, images of her in her first marital home, ironing her husband's shirts on a card table with a steam-less iron. I saw her refinishing a dresser drawer to fill with baby clothes and blankets. 

Being her fourth child, the understanding I had of my mother was that she had always been a pro at giving birth. I learned, instead, that she read only a couple of books on the Lamaze and Bradley method of natural birthing and went from there. She woke at 1 a.m. on a life-changing day in January of 1973 and, after 13 hours of painful labor, birthed a baby boy. And so, it began.

Back then, we put our babies to sleep face down and you were very strong and could lift your head from day one... Remember, I was 22 and had no previous experience with infants. Being a mother came so easily and I’m so grateful.
— My mother's words
Micaela Neumann