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The only thing that seems to ground me these days is breathing.
The inhale and the exhale.
I saw a quote that said, “I breathe deeply and fully. I take in the breath of life. And I am nourished.”
Nourishment. The true role of motherhood. To feed, to hold, to protect, to grow, to surround, to be. And without my mom, I am constantly looking for that nourishment.
The hardest part of her loss is that I now have to figure out how to mother myself while I mother my children. I don’t know how.
I can read and research and talk it out and substitute, but I still don’t know. I had the luxury of following her lead, making mistakes and having her correct me, making mistakes and deciding that I knew better than she did, making mistakes and talking them out with her to figure out the middle of it all.
I followed her or tried to make my own way, but regardless of the movement, she was the wall I leaned against through each step my children made. I don’t know how to keep that movement going without her behind me. I know I can imagine her presence, trust that she still sees me, maybe even briefly feel her hands on my back, but I can’t truly have her continue to ground me through the rough patches I bump along.
Genetically, we carry more of our mother’s genes than our father’s. The science is long and confusing and centered around mitochondria, but it still helps me pause and slightly smile.
And we relied on our mother’s breathing to have oxygen and breathe before we found our way into the world. Random facts, but maybe they show me the way. How to mother and tether myself back to the ground? So what do I do? I breathe. I find that inhale and exhale.
And I suddenly realize, it’s the piece of her I keep.
My breath was her breath at various points, and I keep that with me. I feel so unmoored without her holding me up, but maybe the slow inhale and exhale of my breath helps me stay connected.
Maybe I feel her hands on my back, and it is now my strength all along.
I lean on me. I feed, hold, protect, grow, surround, and I just be.
Her gift to me, my gift to my children, and on and on it goes.
“I breathe deeply and fully. I take in the breath of life. And I’m nourished.”
And through the mothering of my children, I keep her in my space.