It was a longing that brought me to the point of becoming a mother. Little did I know that becoming a mother would give me the most powerful sense of belonging that I could have known. Curious how to be longing for something pulls at an ache while belonging anchors one within both ache and delight.
Having lost my mother early in my life, I can’t say I had a lot of understanding of motherhood, and I had fiercely rejected attempts at replacing the mother of my birth. So the moment came as a total surprise.
Twenty-nine years have passed, and still I remember it well. The clear air, the lightly blued sky, the wisps of clouds. The whirr of the car zipping me home across the valley, the newborn tucked safely in her carrier. The harvested fields holding a hint of the green of spring, a golden straw lighter than would be their winter dress.
It struck me with clarity and force: I now belonged to the people known as mothers. Stretching far back in time. Across place. I may have lost my own mother but now I belonged in her footsteps, and her mother’s before her. I belonged in the footsteps of my mother’s friends; I belonged in the hearts and hands of the women who nurtured not only their own children but also me as a young woman. I had long been surrounded by their love, but never before had I seen or felt it in this way.
Today I realize that an even deeper belonging was taking place on the journey of motherhood. I had had a migratory childhood, but my children were rooted here in the pacific northwest. This house, with these trees, these wild things – the deer and the heron, the rabbits and coyote, the salmonberry and yew, the cedar and vine maple. My children brought me out into the natural world, invited curiosity and delight in our surroundings. They sat me beneath a cedar tree, and I came to know that I belonged to Mother Earth.
By Gloria Winters