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Subject: [Space] Sunday Afternoon Rocking
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 12:59:01 EDT

From: Jan,

"For the Mothers" (from the "Sunday Afternoon Rocking" series)

Afternoon All,

So much has changed in our world from the time of our ancestors that as
closely as many of us study history and pour over documents, it is hard
sometimes to actually get a handle on how they may have thought, on how
their worlds molded them into far different responses than we might have
today. Indeed, if we could but meet our own many greats granny for just a
space in time, we might be very surprised how hard it would be to actually
find a common ground, as much as we like to imagine such a meeting to be
very different. But I think...some things are matter where
in the world one might call home, no matter what niche in time one drew
breath. One of those things that I feel can be called the ultimate in "the
universality of the human experience" is Motherhood. Today is for the

The day a woman gazes on the face of her newborn infant, or in any
way takes on a child to consider her own, her life is forever
changed, and I cannot imagine that this would have been different at any
point in history. Her life is suddenly never again really her own, and she
would have it no other way.

I can remember rocking my ailing children hour after hour in the soft light
of a lamp unto the first streaks of dawn, and so can many of you. And it is
easy not just to imagine, but to KNOW, mother after mother through the march
of years has sat by firelight, candlelight, cuddling and rocking a feverish
fussing child, anxiously watching, anxiously comforting, anxiously praying.

Whether it be fear of enemy peoples, or the starvation, disease, animals of
the wild in another era...or fear of financial woes, marital concerns, job
security of today...there is no true mother who would not in a heartbeat
give up her own life for that child and never give it a second thought. A
gentle nature can become a fierce tigress in the wake of concern for a
child..and I think that has always been so.

I have watched anxiously as my children encountered the disappointments
and frustrations of a world I could not control, so have you...and so it has
always been...whether that mother was of our time or wore the skirts and
bonnets of another time. I have wished a thousand times and more it was I
who was so sick, I who was so hurt, I who was so embarrassed, I who was so
frightened, I who was so confused, so frustrated, I who felt all those
things rather than my have you. The world has always dished out
all those negatives, as it will always do, and they are heaped upon our
children because we cannot forever keep them in a playpen anymore than our
ancestors could keep them swaddled. The negatives may come in different
packages, packages that match the worlds we people in our times...but they
come...and every mother has wished she could take it upon herself that her
child might be spared.

I have held my shoulders high with pride when they have achieved, as have
you, as has every mother in every time who watched with wonder what this
tiny being was growing into. I have watched with pain and fear as they made
mistakes, and wished I could have given them with their birth the wisdom of
my years as surely as I gave them brown eyes.

I have watched with fear and trepidation as my children grow into young
adults, and the pain of that growing into an adult with all of the
responsibilities an adult must assume is both a source of pride and a source
of great worry. And so felt the mothers who sent their sons to a war, who
watched children leave not just a home but a country to sail into an
unknown, who watched them marry, who watched them dashing into a world often
ill prepared, who watched them make the mistakes of youthful immaturity, who
wished for just a moment in time that they were once again tripping over her
feet and clinging to her skirts instead. "When they are young, they trip on
your feet...but when they are older, they trip on your heart", is an oldtime
saying...and there is much truth in it.

If there was one continuous theme to my prayers the entire time my children
were growing up it was, "Dear Lord, please! Just let me live to see them
grown!" So important it seemed that I bear out this responsibility, do what
I could (often inept) to prepare them for the world, to protect them in
their most vulnerable years that I would most willingly have laid down my
life when the last child were grown if it were possible to bargain such. I
imagine many of you have prayed that same prayer. And so must have felt all
the mothers who ever drew breath, and perhaps especially those who lived in
days when fatal disease was so much more a part of life, childbirth so
dangerous. I imagine my prayers were mere echoes of the fervent ones of the

No, from the day a mother looks upon the face of that first newborn infant,
her life is never again her own, and though my children are yet young
people, I do not imagine this will ever change. Though they grow into
parents themselves, and grandparents, as long as I draw breath I will wish
to protect them, I will want to heap their pain upon myself rather than let
them experience whether that is rational or not. I may well step back and
allow them to live their own lives, but I will never cease to be anxious,
never cease to worry, never cease to feel pride, never cease to look upon
them and feel my heart nearly burst with love...never cease to be a mother.
And I would have it no other way...nor would you...nor would those mothers
of the past.

I never fully understood my mother until I was one. And then I felt with a
pang how she must have felt in all those situations that I had never
understood from her perspective before. I suddenly stepped out on a path of
discovery that has lasted these twenty years and more, with all of the
changes that accompany a child's growth, realizing at each step how it must
have been for my own many years before. And I understood not just my
mother, but her mother, and the mother before that...

Today is for the mothers, your mother, my mother, ourselves, all the mothers
that came before our mothers...all the mothers that ever drew breath upon
this earth, in any time, at any place. Styles may change, life patterns may
differ, our world may look vastly different and feel vastly different...but
a mother is a mother...

just a thought,

(Note: Afternoon Rocking messages are meant to be passed on, meant to be
shared...simply share as written without alterations...and in entirety.
Thanks, jan)

Sunday Afternoon Rocking columns are distributed weekly on the list Sunday
Rocking. This is not a "reply to" list, and normally only one message per
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Timothy C. Hoskins

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