My mother, whose favourite past time is sniffing at the wind and listening to cosmic vibrations and city sounds for information about the well-being of her three kids, has a reclining chair made to fit, and fixed in a corner in my living room. She also has one, each, in my sister’s studio apartment, and my brother’ shared flat. Except, at my brother’s, it is parked under a tree at his block’s green-yard, where he closes it off until she visits him again.
My mother’s recliner is where she sits to see into us and try to fix all of our problems. It used to be stationed in our heads and hearts as long phone calls, a comforting knock at the door in a moment’ request, a sweep into trusting arms, a supportive presence and elevating words. Then, my first real boyfriend upped and left me for a lone vacationer we met while holidaying in Uganda. And it materialized in its present form, while she nursed me back to sanity and wholeness.
In moments of pure unscripted living, my mother’ burden of worry over my siblings and I show up as sighs, hums of hymns and violent prayers. She’s ever bright and sunny until she thinks of us and pauses; in the middle of a sentence. You’d see her listen, frown and go in the line of, “oh, I should see your brother (or sister) asap. There may be something he (or she) needs support on.”
As a young child, I remember my mother’s worry as constant movements, activities and speeches for food, shelter, clothing, safety, support and learning.
As a toddler, it was watchful eyes following every movement I make. Ans as a teenager it was frequent drives to and from places I thought I needed to be, coupled with meaningful eye-contact in the rear-view mirror, telling me, “I understand, let me guide you.”
Recently, my brother had a health scare, followed in close succession by a job loss, then a stretch of dry financial days which plunged him into a depressive state, and my mother worried herself to a hospital bed.
At first, that was difficult for me to process, until I birthed my daughter a week ago. Within these seven days I have worried about germs; that perhaps there is more I can do to keep every micro-organism away from my little one. I have worried about food, temperature, her living space, her safety, immune system, colour of poop, rhythm of her breath, how long she sleeps and how long she’s been awake. I have worried about her future; how I’ll protect her from the stares of strangers….and the cons of the internet.
I have worried about what she’s thinking; does she like it here? Would she rather I didn’t bring her here? Would she prefer a different set of parents, a different environment? I have worried about TV contents and the quality of people she will share the world with. There is no end to my worrying about her.
And my grand-mother says it is just the beginning. That soon, when I have more kids as I plan to, I will understand what it means to feel intense love for different people at the same time, and have different chambers of worry for each of them. She says it is soul consuming. She says a mother worries over her kids till she draw her last breathe: it is why she can see them getting into trouble before they actually do. And why she can help them find a solution to their problems.
She says worry is the makeup of a mother. I just want to know how much.
Photo Credit: Web images