Monday, May 21, 2012

When Did She Become a Woman?

My baby girl is forty-one today, but she's still a baby to me.
I know she's a matriarch to others, but my child is what I see.
It was a surprise to hear from someone she's a middle-aged woman,
That surely we've outgrown mother/ daughter, and are now friends.

I always thought I could make that leap and see her as my peer,
But she has so many superior qualities that I hold most dear.
She became my best friend so many years and so many lives ago,
I have never been strong enough to be the friend to whom she'd go.

I am so grateful that she has found others to be her confidants;
To give our children freedom of choice is what a parent really wants.
But my soul and heart still cry whenever I know she is in great pain;
There are many times I wish I could shelter her with my womb again.

I am concerned how she will fare when her baby walks away;
She has given so much of herself that, for her wholeness, I pray.
Without her presence in my daily life, I was so severely bereft;
Perhaps she will hold it together better than I did when she left.

Maybe eighteen is no more the age at which we set our young free;
Maybe this is too young for them to be who they're meant to be.
Maybe we have more years of innocence with our dear children;
Time when they can be both our sheltered children and our friends.

A Sister Tree and Me

My father used to say about his hormonal teenagers that we were "in love with love." It is true that the letting go of parts of oneself and putting new parts from others in the place of our old selves is quite exhilarating. Much of that exhilaration is actually anxiety that is a natural reaction to foreign entries into ourselves. Anxiety and lust are what we often call love because we are addicted to excitement. Love really means giving a part of oneself to another and taking a part of another into oneself. How carelessly we throw these words and our own bodies and souls around.

A good gardener looks for compatible stock before joining the two to one source of life. Love takes time to grow, just as a graft to a tree takes time to become part of that life system. And without a strong and compatible root system, the graft cannot flourish. You cannot succeed in grafting an apple to a banana tree. How foolish we are to imagine that we can create good grafts of ourselves with others without knowing anything of the habits and the seasons of the other.

All grafts begin with an "excitement" of cells that causes either permanent bonding or rejection. The graft is not successful until this "excitement" has subsided. Once the stress of introduction of the "life blood" of each being introduced into the other is complete, a new entity is formed.

When I met my childhood friend for the first time, I was mesmerized. Here was somebody who looked like me with her blond hair, flashing eyes, and ready laugh. Her family, like mine, was Catholic. It was "love at first sight." My six-year-old self decided that she was my sister, but the graft didn't take. We both grew up to be strong trees, standing straight and tall, but it didn't seem that our root stock could ever create a successful new entity.

We have decided to reclaim each other and have opened ourselves to learning the others habits and seasons. We are exhilarated by each others presence, but the process is anxiety producing. We are finding much in our values that seems to be compatible, even though we approach life from very different angles. We both seem to have our own strong root stock, so we will probably never be grafted one to the other for survival. But it sure is nice to have a neighboring tree that can sometime shade me and that I can sometime shade. We are both much enriched by the parts of each other that are becoming parts of ourselves.