Earth Day 2017
Remember…you came from the dust and to the dust you shall return.
In the gap between those two is my life, on this planet. The earth is my body, Her water is my blood. The air is my breath, and Fire is my Spirit.
The other day my neighbor and her seven-year old son were visiting in my house. During our conversation my neighbor revealed that she had been adopted, after being placed in foster care in Pima County when she was seven years old. She is now 26, a single mother who, to my delight, could offer a positive outlook toward her traumatic experience.
She said that between the ages of five and seven she’d been sexually abused, and that her mother had been a drug abuser. She said she felt that it was a neighbor who had reported the abuse, and when the police came to remove her and her sisters, it was very chaotic.
I’ve been there; I’ve been the one to be required to remove children from their homes, and try to assuage their fears and tears as they are ‘ripped’ from the only parents they’ve known, even though they are incapable of parenting. It is heart-breaking. You know the children can’t stay, and you know that a foster home may not be the greatest alternative, but is the only one available.
I’ve been the one to offer mandated services to try to get the children back home, offer support and supervision to ensure the safety and stability of the home. I’ve been the one to file the papers in court asking that parental rights be terminated for the purpose of adoption so the children can be placed in a new, stable, permanent, loving home.
My neighbor was adopted by her new parents when she was eight years old. She loves her Mom and Dad. She said her abusers were convicted of sexual abuse and sent to prison, and that she testified in court against them. Very gutsy young girl, and now young woman.
When I see how my neighbor cares for her child, and how her child engages so freely with me, I feel a sense of pride that I know that one child grew through the foster care system to be the good mother that she is. It could have had a much worse result.
So while i never really got to see how the placements I made turned out, I can know that probably some of them were also positive. Through my neighbor I can see that what I did so many years ago was not in vain, although I was not personally engaged in her story.
I feel grateful for this gift – this knowledge that a young child did grow to adulthood, not without scars, but with perception, and grace, through a system that is sometimes so maligned when the public learns of a negative consequence. I’m glad to know that what I did was a good thing in the world. When you are in the middle of it, there are many things happening at once, and doubts do creep in about whether you are doing the right thing. I always tried to do the right thing…and I know I did more times than not.
I found that poem I was searching for…
I remember that as a child, when I’d picked my mother’s flowers that she had so patiently planted, and hoped would bring some beauty to the barren landscape of the family’s new house, she would be so upset. When my own children would pick the flowers I’d planted I remembered…
She responded to the earth by planting flowers in places where the scars remained. Reminders of beauty – longings not realized – symbols of her inner being.
Yellow daffodils nodding their heads in the breeze, beckoning tiny fingers to pluck them, in response to love’s movement for appreciation.
“Mommie, these are for you. ” (Mommie, I love you.) Love’s gift denied, broken stems, stiff and bare – the beauty – where?
She plants the seed and bulbs, looking for another spring. The cycle continues. “Mommie, I picked these for you.” (Mommie, I love you.) Can she see the love in their eyes, when the love has been plucked from her stems of hope?
At her graveside he said that flowers were for the living, not the dead. Oh, let me be awake and aware and alive and living to receive the flowers plucked from my soul’s longing.
In Memoriam – MJMJ
3/25/95 – Copyright, SAS
Painting by Leslie Allyn – “Finally Spring” – used with permission
This morning I’d decided to write about aspects of my life and my feelings about having a mother, and being a kind of mother to her. As I searched for a poem I wrote many years ago, which I couldn’t find, I rediscovered something I wrote in 2010. This is my post for today.
My usual ‘habit’ when I wake up is to just sit for a while, maybe just staring out the window, just zoning out. Today as I did that my thoughts went back to the day my daughter was born. I remembered how I’d prepared the bed so that if my water broke while I was in it, the mattress wouldn’t be ruined. I thought about how I’d returned all the borrowed maternity clothes the day before.
Something in me ‘knew’ about the nesting thing. I wasn’t expecting my daughter for another week. I got up that morning, realizing that I’d ’sprung a leak’ and put a towel between my legs. My doctor appointment was later that morning. When he checked me he said I needed to go on to the hospital. Today was the day.
As I became more aware during this reverie this morning, I remembered…Today IS my daughter’s birthday! To imagine this beautiful human being transported through me into this world is an awesome thought. I am honored to be her mother. And my heart aches when she is not in a good place, like right now, with regard to her financial situation.
It was a struggle before the economic failures in this country; and for those who are self-employed, such as artists, writers, and musicians, things can be very difficult when no one is supporting their expression of life, and other jobs are scarce as well.
It’s the mother’s heart that worries for my daughter; yet, it is her life, and her choices, and her faith in the Creator to guide her and support her. I would not have chosen for her to live as she is doing when I gave birth to her, but she has proven time after time that she is strong, and wise, and committed to herself and her art. She has grown into a very beautiful woman, inside and out.
Today my daughter continues her struggle to keep afloat financially, and it is not easy. My heart still hopes for her success in all her current endeavors. She too is a mother, a mother to her creations, birthing them from imagination into colorful images. She hopes that these creations succeed, that they live, and are acknowledged and loved. That’s what most mothers do…hope.
Her artwork is spectacular, and you can find examples here.