Symmetry of Life
I’ve been thinking a lot about the symmetry of life from beginning and ending. When I had a baby 25 years ago there was a constant need for my attention; he relied on me to be present, available, devoted. His very life depended on me and I loved him with the deepest, most stirring love. I would have given him anything to make him happy, to keep him comfortable, and to sustain him. There were diapers, feedings, schedules, hope and dreams. While there was always a question of whether and when to return to work, there was never a question about leaving him in the care of strangers. I never wanted him to be raised by those who didn’t love him. I never wanted to put him in a daycare so I sacrificed wealth or at least some financial comfort for the blessing and reward of being a mom. Loading and unloading a stroller, car seats, potty chairs, feeding and bathing, keeping track of progress — these were my daily events and I loved it all.
The babies are grown and college years are done and they are independent, lovely and wonderful people. I am free of all the challenges of raising them– free to write and research and enjoy my own time, but only for a moment after I start what I thought would be my new normal, I find myself with the same tasks, expectations and dependence. Only now directed not toward raising children, rather at aiding my mother toward the end of her earthly journey, which looks remarkably similar to the beginning of the adventure of raising babies into adults, but in reverse. Allowing the adult to become the child. Her dependence on me was unexpected and unforeseen. I must love her with the deepest, most stirring love. I would give her anything to make her happy, keep her comfortable, and sustain her. There are or will someday be diapers, feedings, schedules, doctors appointments, supplies, hopes and dreams. There is the need to leave work often as there is no desire to leave her in the care of strangers who do not love her or have her best interests at heart. I must sacrifice financial comfort for her comfort for the reward of being her daughter.
Loading and unloading wheelchairs, walkers, potty chairs; feeding, bathing, keeping track of medications and appointments. These are my routine tasks and I will look back with bittersweet memories as she moves from mother to child and I will ask God for the strength to love her and bless her all the days of her life.
And the cycle is part of a long history– time infinite of mothers caring for children who care for mothers. As my mother cared for my every need and for the needs of my own children, now I and my children will care for her until it is time for them to care for me. God’s plan of infinite love, grace, forgiveness, blessing and provision.