Last Sunday, I took Zi for a walk through Avocat River and for a swim by the waterfall. All determined to have her appreciate the cathedral that is our rainforests, trees and rivers, I was set on being the naturegoddessmother version of myself. The day was glorious…the waterfall cold! A freezing mist blew in all directions from the thundering water and while Zi was happy to bob around with me, it was obviously too intense for her. After, on our way back, I took her to a shallow part where the river merely bubbled along and where she could stand for herself and splash a bit. Of course, she’s just a baby and I’m totally starting way too early in my eagerness and sometimes I have to remember to take it one step at a time. I realised this when we later arrived at the placid Yara River and little Zi was so much happier being able to play in the sand and at the river’s edge without courting waist deep currents as we did with her in my backpack on our way to and from the waterfall.
‘Sorry Zi’, I said to her, hugging her chubby, cherub body, ‘mummy makes mistakes and is learning along the way’. My friends pointed out that she wouldn’t remember this mild misjudgment – and she’ll certainly hoard memories of other ones – so it was okay. Still, it made me reflect, as I suppose you do when you become a mother, on the imperfection of your efforts, the necessity of figuring out the right combination of forgiveness and hindsight, the ultimate hope that whatever your decisions at the time, things will turn out alright anyway, and the hidden desire that your mistakes would be forgotten and your best intentions remembered.
Ah, if only it happened that way. I’m sure this is exactly what my parents, and many others, wish. This is certainly not what mine got, and i know I’m not alone. What would have made the difference? I think honesty. A big part of not knowing what to hold on to and what to let go of is based in having to protect your own experience of your reality in a context where, more than parents making mistakes, is the impossibility of having truthful, open conversation about them. Of course, mistakes are forgivable, but I guess what is not is the expectation that you have to pretend they didn’t happen or that you can’t talk about them or that you can’t point out when they continue to be repeated. As we all know, much of what families teach is silence, particularly around mistakes, misdeeds and misjudgments. And so the basis for forgiveness and letting go, which is open honesty that calls a situation for what it is and asks that it be acknowledged for how it was experienced and what its impact was, is often side-stepped for avoidance, lack of resolution, ever-present tension and conflict set to slowly simmer.
It was only my own excitement to be all natgeo with her that led to a small misreading of what was best of Ziya that day of the waterfall, but it doesn’t matter what emotion led to my action or whether she’d forget or was totally fine. What mattered was that I reflected on it with her and let her know I learned from the situation and would continue to learn along the way. Perhaps, it just that parents get into the mania of managing life, work and family and forget to do this or are too tired to pay attention or just expect you’ll live with whatever they do. But, I’d like to not forget that if I can and I’d like to create actual honesty between us, rather than simply love, obligation and relationship, and I’d like Zi to know that when things aren’t perfect, I know she’s doing okay because she’s made the effort, held up her end or brought in her strengths and helped us to get through it together.
One tired mama shouldn’t be doing all this thinking on one sunny day soaking in the waters of the north coast, but there are lessons to be had in every sparkling spring. At least these are the lessons that make me feel alive, inspired to do my best, filled with the kind of love that makes me want to be both real and positive at the same time and able to both communicate and let go. I am being given the chance to be a better person and all I can do is thank Zi for the gift, challenging, hard and rewarding as it is.
In the meantime, the paper I was to submit first two Fridays ago and then last Friday is still on my desk. Its delay is not from any lack of hard work at about 15 000 things on my part. I wrote the Prof the first time to let him know about the delay, but was too shame to do so the second. What can I do but write as fast as I can amidst everything else, and hope he understands that I might not meet expectations, but I’m making the most of every moment, and learning as much as I can, everyday, on every front, along the way.