Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Of a Joy Which Can't Be Words*

Yesterday, WonderBaby turned 9 months old.

Nine calendar months is roughly the period of time that she spent in my womb. (41 weeks to the day, to be precise, which, counting from November 14, puts us pretty near to today. Yes, I counted. On my fingers. At 3am.) She has now, then, been out in this world for as long as she was in the cozy little world of the womb, where she grew from the tiniest microscopic speck to the eight and half pound miracle that somehow managed to work its way out into the world through the most unlikely - in my view - of passages. And: I have been a mother, now, for the same amount of time that I was pregnant and dreaming of becoming a mother.

I thought about marking this day, these days, with some reflection upon my evolution as a mother. I thought about writing my post about fear, about how fearful my experience of motherhood has been at times and what I am learning about this fear, to mark the passing of these first nine months. I also thought about writing that promised post about why and how parenthood really is, in some respects, like a secret club. I thought about all variety of musings on motherhood, all of which seemed particularly appropriate as reflections upon these first nine months, the first nine months of our life together, here in this big bright world.

But none of these musings and reflections could capture, perfectly, the extraordinariness of this experience, of these nine months and the nine months that preceded them.

So I decided to try to write the post that I've been struggling to write for some time now, a post that I have sat with and worried over and laboured over. A post that I was not sure I could tend to with the proper care, a post that I was not sure that I was qualified to write. A post that I have wanted, desperately, to write, but that I have been afraid of writing. A messy post.

The post that I have wanted to write is this: a reflection on the physical beauty of my child, and my fascination with and attraction to that beauty.

I do not want to write about the beauty that pleases superficially - the roundness of eye, the curve of eyelashes, the sheen of her pale blond hair. This would not be an analysis of her physical assets, nor a reflection upon the possibility that she might escape the burden of physical quirkiness only to acquire the burden of beauty. What I want to write, rather, is an ode, of sorts, of whatever sort I can manage, to the real, the pure, the heartwrenching and heartlifting beauty of her form. To the impossible harmony of strength and fragility and softness in every curve of her limbs, every tilt of her downy head, every grasp of her fierce little hand.

And I want to write about this, too: how my love for her is physical, desperately physical. How my love for her wants to cleave to her, always, to feel her pressed against me, her breath on my cheek, her tiny hands tangled in my hair, her wee proud belly warm against my chest. How there is something of the erotic - the Platonic erotic, Socrates' eros as a yearning for beauty, for the Form of beauty, of the Good - in that love.

But here is where I stop short. We cannot, must not, speak or write of our children in these terms. And even if poetry - the natural (perhaps forced?) lyricism of motherhood - affords me the right and the space to sing hymns to Eros extolling the beauty of my child, the muck and the filth of our culture, and of this virtual world, calls into question that right, and sullies that space.

I have dared to use the word erotic here, in writing about my child, and that I speak in terms of daring says it all: I am, I think, taking a risk. One aspect of that risk is not so frightening: that some puritanical parent, or non-parent, will find these words offensive, and take me to task for sexualizing my child. I am not sexualizing my child: I am trying to find language to express a non-sexual love that is nevertheless deeply physical. Our culture confuses the physical with the sexual, and so I expect that many would perceive even this effort to write the physicaly beauty of my child as troubling. But I can live with that.

What is more difficult to live with, even for a second: that in using the language of the physical and of the erotic - even in a pointedly Socratic sense - I am opening the gates of Google pervdom and waving in the creeps, the monsters, the card-carrying N*MBLA members. Here! Physical love mother and child! Translate to filth.

And this is what stops me. And it pains me. My mind swirls, my fingers twitch: I have words. I have sentences, phrases, similes, metaphors, paragraphs, stanzas. I have poetry. I am aching to spill it. I am aching to shout out to the world the sharp joy, the stinging bliss of this physical love, this love that will, I know, lose its sharpness, its edge, become blurry as she grows into her own self and I back into my separate self. I want to capture it. I want to tell the truth about it.

Will you help me? Would you - could you - tell me how you would write this? Show me? What I am asking is: would you write an ode to your child, to your children, that is both forceful and safe? And if you do not think it possible (in the context of safety, or any any other context) would you tell me why? Is this - really, frankly, writing about our love for our children, about the physicalness of our connection to them in that love - unbloggable? Is this even more true - as I suspect it is - for fathers? Am I overthinking this?

I'm going to labour through this post over the coming weeks. My objective will be to give it birth by the end of this ninth month (August). Between now and then, if you write a post about your love for your child, or about writing about your love for child, or about why it might be imprudent to write such love, please leave the link for me here, in these comments. If you prefer to not write such a post, leave a response (if you have one) here. I'll look to these for inspiration and insight, and when I post my own, I'll give all due credit and, hopefully, situate my words within a broader discussion about love for our children and writing that love.

*Apologies to e.e. cummings...


Currently, in the Basement... our first ever circle share! Come, join in...


Blogger Gabriella said...

I wrote a post about Samantha, actually it was just a collage of her pics set to a song which expresses my feelings exactly. It was easier than writing (for me at least). Although I will be trying to post something about her for her 1st birthday on Aug.17. Hopefully I'll be able to do it beautifully and reflect on who she is and will become!

12:16 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

I think you've been writing this post for awhile now, not in words perhaps, but in your wonderful, wonderful photographs. I spent quite awhile yesterday just staring at that photo of the It's Not Easy Being Green Dancers. It is beauty, it is motion and freedom and strength - but above all, it is those incredible, munchable legs!

I think I can feel a post brewing... I'll let you know.

Oh, and P.S. - I think we must have shared a due date: November 7 (my first due date, with the Bub in 2003). He finally came out on the 12th (I listened to the Last Post on my way to the hospital the day before).

12:40 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Good luck with completing your post. If anyone can capture those feelings better than you already have, it would be you.

There are moments where I am so distinctly aware that Q really *comes* from me, that he is my flesh. That an idea we had to have a child has become a thinking, feeling, laughing being of his own. It's a much more intense, physical, fierce love than I ever expected.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

HBM, once again you read my mind. I will work on this, too. I've been attempting to capture just the same physicality of my love for my baby girl. I'm about to leave her behind for SEVEN WHOLE DAYS as I ready our new home on the prairie for her arrival. I hope this separation will bring out the words I've been searching for but which thus far elude me.

I'll work on it and I'll share it with you if you like.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The physical aspect of my love for my girls is something I've not been able to capture. I don't see it as being subject to misinterpretation or perversion, but I'm probably being naive.

I think it's often more difficult for us as mothers to fully accept our children as separate beings from ourselves than it is for them, especially as they grow and seek greater independence.

But that physicality is probably the reason why I tell my girls "I love you so much that I could eat you up with a spoon!" and why I can sit and snuggle them and sniff their heads for hours, even when they desperately need baths. Because I love that physical connection.

1:06 PM  
Blogger DD said...

As trite as this sounds, "words cannot describe" what you are wanting to do. I understand the urge, the need, to do so, but trying to describe the beauty of your child is like trying to describe the infinite cosmo.

We can try, and I'm sure many will do so with such power and love I will be brought to tears. But nothing can describe the beauty of my child, of any child, like my wordless soul can.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't realize how close in age our girls are-Kaitlyn will be 9 months old on the 18th. As for writing about the physical love, I say why not? But yes, I doubt society would accept a father's musings on the perfect softness of his daughter's skin without judging it to be somehow sexual.

I'll work on a post and then come back with a link. Thanks for proposing such an important post topic.

1:51 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

This is really interesting. I need to think about it. I may try to tackle it.

My first reaction, however, is concern about attracting the wrong people to a site with pictures of my daughter.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

It is amazing to me how much my own son still feels like a physical part of me, when I hold him, even though he is already walking, and talking, and becoming each and every day more an independent being.

When he is in my arms, I feel more physically complete then I ever felt before I had a child. I feel as though my arms were made to hold him, and his body was made to be held by my arms.

I believe the physical love mothers feel for their children is an essential survival instinct. After all, when our children are newborns, we must keep them close to feed them and keep them warm; later, when they start crawling and walking, keeping them close to us, within easy reach of our hugs and kisses, protects them. It is only logical that nature would encourage mothers and babies to establish a deep physical bond.

I know this feeling will fade as my gets older-- it will have to fade, so he can learn to take care of himself on his own.

I often wonder if I will always feel its absence afterward, and if this absence is what drives that unbridled grandbaby lust so many mothers of grown children seem to succumb to. Heh.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've started to write these comments a couple of time now, to say that sometimes the quickest peck on the lips, the simplest kiss can create butterflies like when his father kissed me for the first time. Obviously, with different intentions and results. It wasn't until now that I realized that you can only say something like that if you follow up and spell it out plainly with an *obviously* following it. I'm not sure I could write this assignment. Not because I think it's wrong, I'm just not sure I've found the words. They are there, and I can hear them in my head but they are still quite tangled up with all the rest of it; the good, bad, ugly and the (wonder)ful.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Sometimes it's the lack of words that speak the clearest.

3:12 PM  
Blogger crabbykate said...

I hear you on this, and have discussed this in the past with other friends of mine. In fact, I saw a poem once on mamazine that has best described it for me so far. Here's the link (courtesy of Marla, from months ago)


3:18 PM  
Blogger BabyonBored said...

Oh my God, I have been totally thinking about this a lot lately because I feel like I am so madly in love with my daughter that I want to make out with her. You know what I mean right? Like inhale her, eat her whole face, blend with her, attach her to me with tape so I never have to be one second from that baby breath, hand holding gorgeous face, perfectness. It's truly like I felt about my husband during the falling in love phase. I think it's normal. At least I hope it's normal because I've been thinking I should have another kid so I don't totally suffocate her with my love. Yes, earlier in this comment I said I WANT TO MAKE OUT WITH HER. But, I know you get it.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Miguelita said...

I understand. Oh I understand.
I have struggleed with how to put into words the deep, visceral physical connection that I feel for my boys. Its not erotic but is so keenly sensual that it is beyond any sensible description.

I am afraid to define it. I have twins and they are so different that I am afraid that defining it individually would invite comparison, even though I truly could not tell you where the love for one starts and the other ends because they are so entwined in me.

I will try. Gaaah - I just imagine them reading it someday when they are teens and thinking I was crazy. I am. Crazy in love.

3:41 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

It is, as you said in a recent post I can't be arsed to go and find, a matter of "skin from skin, skin to skin."

It feels like gathering in all the parts of your own self in a hug of delight to celebrate some good news - the joy of your love of your own child.

It's the tactile joy that makes your own delightful wee baby real to you, that confirm what you are amazed but hesitant to believe - she really is yours, she really is real, that angel really is corporeal and in full flesh before you, you may in fact put your hand on, not through, her perfection of form.

It is the delight in awkward grace, poignant and endearing, that marks appreciation of all newly born creatures, from lanky young colt to fluffy chick to sweet pink baby.

It is the sucking in of her essence in aroma form that knits the bonds of memory and enable mothers to identify their young.

It is the protection and the teaching of safety and love, the application of affection to the physical world, where it may be expressed physically. (Affection I use as very different from, though not necessarily exclusive of, sexuality, two different shades of "love.")

It is often phrased as "I could just eat her up" this wanting to enfold, encircle, encompass, make them part of us again, reclaim a part of ourselves.

I totally get what you mean.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is a beautiful and honest post and when I LIKE my kids again...I am sure I will be able to think about it and write something to share...except according to blogspot powers that be my blog doesn't exist at the moment!

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Music therapists believe that words are limiting - even for those of us with pretty decent speech.

There's a realm beyond language that we visit - through art, dance, music, the other creative mediums.

It gets to the nuances of the word LOVE - to the emotions we can't name - but can feel and do feel when a song comes on or that Chopin Nocturne twangs in our soul.

When saying LOVE is not enough - but singing it, or finding a song or piece or sound pinpoints exactly the LOVE you want to express.

And so you hit on why our profession is so effective. Because there is more to our love for our children than words can allow us to say.

Maybe there are no words for Wonderbaby. I know on most days, I have none for Q. But I have a song. And if I could paint, I'd have that too.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Kel said...

Add me to the Nov club. Bean was born on the 3rd. I must think on this topic and get my entry up. I've been kind of thinking about my feelings for both boys, and this will be a good time to think and blog about it.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Namito said...

Believe me, as an artist who loves to paint the human form, this is ALWAYS in the back of my head. And I fucking RESENT that it is.

Where I see beauty and grace, another will see nothing but disgust and disgrace.

The love we have for our children is inescapably sensual. All our senses are at work. I love how she looks, sounds, smells, feels, and yes, I love the salty taste of her baby sweat that lingers on my lips after giving a particularly loud raspberry to her round little tummy.

I'm going to try to take up your challenge, HBM. And it's out of complete orneriness. I hate it when someone or something tells me "I can't".

6:07 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I'm going to attempt to put how I feel into words in the next few weeks. One thing I will tell you is that I don't think you should feel ashamed or wrong to write exactly how you feel about her. A lot of people probably feel the same, but they can't put it into words. I don't know that I can. There are days when it pains me to drop mine off at school. Physically pains me. They are a part of me, but the best parts. The best parts of me and the best parts of their daddy and something more. Something breathtaking, possibly beyond words. But I like a challenge, so I'll try.

Oh and happy nine months to wonder baby.

6:17 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Oh and, um, as to your actual question? To talk about the platonic eros, it might help to talk about the two halves of one soul coming together image that goes with it. Of course, now I'm going to use that too ;^)

7:04 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

I do think it's unbloggable. Well, at least for me. I've had a post sort of tumbling around in my brain for months, always out of reach, about how good it feels when Vivian plunges her hands down my shirt. But I can't figure out a way to describe it without it sounding sexual. Which it isn't, though it's definitely physical. It happens with Isaac too-- this physical touch that could be construed as sexual even though it's absolutely not--but not as much anymore now that he's older.

7:20 PM  
Blogger L. said...

I think the essence of your struggle is how best to distinguish between "sensual" and "sexual" -- words which, regrettably, lots of people use interchangably these days.

Funny -- I was so overwhelmed, sleep-deprived and PPD-addled when my oldest kid was 9 months old that I didn`t even think he was CUTE. I think I didn`t start really fully enjoying and appreciating babies until my third.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've tried to write something like this for the past 12 months and never could capture my feelings. I can't wait to see what you come up with.

It's sad that expressing true love for our children can attract the sickos...that's why I don't look at my stats much these days. Ignorance is bliss and I hate that I have to think that way but I don't want anyone to stop me from saying that I wish Cricket were potty trained already so we could all sleep naked together, so I could feel his bare bum against my skin. If someone doesn't understand what I mean by that and thinks I'm the sick one, then I feel sorry they don't have the same kind of parent/child love.

9:05 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

wow. powerful; i can feel what you mean - the love, the pain, the need, the celebration.

just put aside your worries about pervs and spread the baby love - but of course, your hesitancy to do so is just one more way in which you love that baby, fierce.

for me, my love of everything physical about bumblebee is palplable - her toes are delicious, that smile near about breaks me in half. and the fact that her body was/is my body? blows my mind.

so hard to capture; so hard to communicate; so hard to resist.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear hbm,

i have been a lurking reader for a long while, and i adore your posts. the elegy made me weep so hysterically that i realized i'm not anywhere near ready for my 8 month old to wean--at least nowhere near where i thought i was.

my feelings on this physical love for my babygirl have been stuck in the wordless zone for months. so far, the best i can come up with is this:

every single cell in my body is a compass that turns toward her body as if she were magnetic north. i feel like i can/could perceive her physical form, even in the deepest darkness, because my body, my cellular awareness or memory, recognizes itself in her.

and sometimes, i can hardly take in air because my love for her is so heavy that i feel it could crush me with its beautiful and completely palpable weight.

best wishes to wonderbaby! and best of luck with this thread!

9:41 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Once again you take what's in my heart, in my brain, pull it out of me and lay it out for the world. I agree about the erotic, the physical, the lust--in the right way of course. My mother once said that T was so sensual. It made me uncomfortable. But then I got it and I've never let the thought go.

If there is a right way to say it, you just did. Not at all pervy.

You know I wrote a love letter to T on her bday last month. If you want to see it again for reference it's called Born Smiling. But something tells me you don't need anyone else's thoughts to construct your own here. I think you just need to feel. And from that will come the right words.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Yes, yes, yes.

See, it's not just about writing *love*, but about this deeply physical element of that love. That which makes us want to munch and squeeze and inhale and consume (I could eat you I could eat you). How to express it clearly and purely and do it justice AND not draw in the pervs?

The other element for me: how it, thi slove, has awakened, so fully, my appreciation of the human body. I've admired the body, of course. But now I am just agog at the miracle that it is, at how beautiful it is. Loving her so physically has brought me back in touch with my own physical self. How to do that issue justice? How to make it clear?

10:33 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Liz - I saw that love letter. It was one of the things that pushed me so far forward on this, made it seem so necessary. I should have credited you.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Nichole said...

I feel the same pull toward Eleana, as if there is an invisible force urging us to be one as we once were. It is so hard for me to express that emotion I feel for her to her, or to anyone else. I kiss my daughter all the time, too. Kisses are the best way for me to communicate my love of her...I kiss her anywhere, anytime, any place - I can't control it!

You hit the nail on the head perfectly. I struggle personally with "appropriate affection", as I myself was sexually abused as a child. I am always hyperaware of the implications of a touch or a word, and am always asking my husband if 'doing this' or 'feeling like that' is "okay." I am not as sensitive or afraid of the physical emotion that comes with being a mother as I was in the beginning.

I plan to write a post about this deep love and emotion this week, probably Thursday (Eleana's first birthday).

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an incredibly beautiful post. I've also written about how dumbstruck I am by my daughter's beauty...about how deeply satisfying and moving it is. I struggled to find the words as well...and I don't think I did it half as well as you have right here.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

Every mommy here knows of what you're speaking. Love is NOT strong enough of a word. If anyone can handle the subject of eros and the child, it is you.


12:03 AM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

I'm going to ruminate on this and give it a shot on my blog. I'll drop you a link if I ever get it together. I don't think it is unbloggable. I also think you need to write it for you and not with a mind too focus on hos others will perceive your words. Everyone will apply their own experiences and views on your writing. You cannot account for them all and trying to do so will hamstring you. The picture in this post expresses your view without words. I can't wait to see the words to go with it.

12:43 AM  
Blogger ms blue said...

The level of love between a mother and her infant is bigger than a ball of fire. It burns brighter than the sun. Our hearts melt and explode a million times over.

To echo others here, if anyone can write of such overwhelming emotion it is you. I await your post with bated breath.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Being a mother, the feelings of love are almost unexpressable (if that's even a word). Have more than one child? Couldn't possibly fathom the love before that child is there. I remember crying uncontrollably at that poem about a Mom contemplating her second child...you've probably read it. But then K was born. It was great. Wonderful. All those words that we feel rather than say or write.

Both of my kids are pieces of me. Living and breathing...and loving.

Here are a couple of posts that I've written about mine...



1:25 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

I don't know about you, but Anonymous made me cry. That, that right there, is the truth of mothering.
And I say, fuck the sick and filthy-minded assholes that want to make something ugly out of a mother's honest, deep and visceral love for her child.
To put it delicately, and all, since I'm so ladylike, don't you know.

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think as mothers, we understand exactly what you mean when you write those words. Nothing filthy or pervy about it. And the people who do come across it and think that way; well that's their problem. They need do deal with that.

Great post. It really made me think about my own child and how I love him so much. I can't even describe the love because it consumes me and often brings me to tears. Crazy sounding, but it's so damn true.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

Stop worrying about the pervs and express the love you feel with your beautiful, beautiful words. Every mother knows this most wonderful feeling, and there's nothing pervy about it. If anyone can capture it in words, HBM, it's you.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Bea said...

I've put up a post, not exactly fulfilling your challenge (more lamenting my inability to do so). But here it is:


10:26 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Okay, done.

Leaning somewhat on what I put above, and of course hopelessly inadequate to the task as it is, it's posted.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Look at you. Inspiring, touching and moving to action. Once again.

I understand this in an emotional way and a physical way and I long to write the words. But if I am very honest I don't know if I have them. I don't know if they are too intimate to share or if sharing them might make them feel less real. I know you'll tackle this beautifully. I am not sure it is within my grasp to do the same. But you've inspired me to try. It may or may not find its way to my blog but I am looking forward to the attempt. Thank you my friend.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

Um, I think you just did write it, and it was beautiful.

I often struggle to put my feelings about my children, both good and bad into words. It is such a primal, visceral, gut wrenching thing...it defies description. Which is why, I suppose, that nobody gets is until they have kids of their own. Nobody can tell you. You just have to experience it.

I am a little emotionally tapped out atm, but I will try to take up the challenge at a later date. It's definitely a worthy one.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I've been trying to write something like what you described for months but I've never been able to do it without feeling like most people would find it perverse. I'm still going to try but I don't know if I'll ever be happy with it. I think the feelings we have for our children go beyond words. I admire your courage to even bring it up!

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I couldn't stop thinking about this and I tried. It's here:

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You blow me away. You say the things that I think but can't put into words with the beauty and eloquence that you can. You amaze me.

I love this post and like Bub and Pie, I think this is something that you've been writing about for a long time. I love that you're asking for other's insight and I'd love to take this on. I'm not sure if I can though...but if I do, I'll let you know.

Amazing, HBM.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Ann D said...

First of all, I love this post.

Second of all, I loved your letter to Today's Parent. Well said, Mama!

7:34 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

Like I have said before...you can write...
The adoration you speak of never goes away...at least it has not for me.

How to write such a post, did you not just?


10:01 PM  
Blogger Mocha said...

You must stop this. I can't take anymore of this beautiful writing and then try to crank something out. Dang. I'm going to be all sentimental tomorrow.


No, really. I mean it.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I love that you think that this post suffices... but there just seems, feels, to be so much more to say.

Like how overpowering the physical love can be. And how it makes me so keenly aware of my own physicality and - this is delicate - sensuality.

The posts that are going up already are gorgeous and amazing. Made me cry tonight.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Well, okay, I took my best shot at it; spur-of-the-moment and off-the-cuff, so forgive the roughness of it.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

I did it. It isn't exactly what you asked for and it doesn't really even come close to saying what I *feel*. But I couldn't get your post out of my head until I wrote it. It came from the heart and isn't crafted prose or well-thought out stunning poetry. It is just what it is.

7:08 AM  
Blogger metro mama said...

This kept me awake last night, so I had to write something. Here it is: http://riverdalemama.blogspot.com/2006/08/not-baby-anymore.html#links

8:14 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I just need to add yet one more comment to tell everyone how beautiful Mel's post on this is. Go read it.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

ok--you've got this hormonal woman blubbing now. and suddenly breathless with excitement to get my new baby.

i don't have the time to do justice to what you are asking here (in the form of a post) but suffice it to say: yes. We know. And it's beyond language, beyond ariculating in so many ways (and the language we have, like you say, borders on dangerous).

Each morning, my son climbs into bed with my husband and I, and he burrows into me. I can't stop touching him, stroking his legs, giving them a sqeeze, feeling how young and smooth he is, and at the same time thinking about a time when this will no longer happen. That I won't be able to devour him as I feel I can now. It's physical, it's divine, and it's too shortlived.

Very very hard to write about without feeling like you enter pervdom,like you say--language fails (for now)

10:52 AM  
Blogger Queenheroical said...

When I was a child my mother would wash my hands. I remember her standing over me, surrounding me with her arms and rubbing my hands with her own under the warm water. Her head leaning close to mine so I could smell her warmth and her spice. My mom, the love of my life. She never spoken a word but I drank in this simple physical touch and it fed my young soul.

Much later, after I had grown and the bliss of innocence was long lost, she was no longer able to touch; able to express her love, years of depression had crippled her. It cut deep to be so removed from her, to be so distanced but I remembered that when I was a child my mother would wash my hands.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Java Junkie said...

I cannot thank you enough. I have never commented (that I remember) on your blog and must confess I only read it occasionally. But last night, and today, you gave me something that I desperately needed. The last month of my life has been overshadowed by the death of my own mother and her mother as well and with the fear that tumors recently found in my dad's lungs, who is a 5 year stage 4 cancer survivor, where cancer and that I would lose him. The only hold on the good parts of life that I've had have been the moments I've spent close to my son. And I wrote about it because of you. Thank you so much. Tears are even now pouring down my face in blessed release. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. That's all I can say, I hope you know what it means.

if you'd like to read what you've inspired, please feel free to visit my blog.


4:03 PM  
Blogger Cristina said...

I wish my mother had shown me that she loved me through hugs and kisses. She was not capable of it.

I worried that because she was not capable, that I would not be capable.

But once I had Little Guy, I realized that I AM capable of showing him how much I love him in deeper ways than my mother could. And I am so happy for that.

If I write a post (and I think I will--thank you for the prompt), this is what I will write to.

What a wonderful topic you have raised. And nothing sexual about it. Whoever says otherwise is simply a perv of the worst kind.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to comment on this the other day to no avail. I hope I can remember how I wanted to say it...the exact words escape me now.

But I know exactly what you are talking about and I also struggle to find words for it; appropriate words that will not be misunderstood. Words that can sum up the deep physical craving that I have for my sone. I wrote a post for his 14 month birthday that touches on it but words cannot adequately express it.

However, I'm sure you will do it beautifully. You always do :)

8:53 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Dear Child,

When I first learned of your touch you were a rumbling in my belly. You could’ve been indigestion.

When I birthed you your father helped me breathe as I forgot from the pain and when you came I yelled out and I don’t remember anything else.

When you came home with me you nursed and I cried. I was sure my breast would crackle into a million painful pieces. I cursed when you cried with hunger.

When you slept you needed to hear my heart. I piled pillows around us and wore you in a sling, I never put you down and I didn’t sleep for months.


Your breath smells like cream cheese frosting. I drink it in with deep long breaths and commit it to memory finally understanding why the flower is called baby’s breath.

Your skin is flawless, each pore spaced so perfectly like a fine lattice, each little blond hair pointing the same direction, each crease and wrinkle brand new. I marvel at its softness and hold it against mine whenever I can.

Your laugh sounds like a twinkle, it’s unfettered and true and in it I find all the hope in the universe. Daily I ask you for that laughter with the tips of my fingers against your ribs.

Your little belly rises and falls with sleep against me at night. I know you are safe and it’s the best sleep I will ever have.


How long you will let me sniff your head?

How long you will need to bury your little hands into my armpits for comfort?

How long will you let me cut your nails, clean your toe jams, brush your hair, rub lotion onto your back?

How long you will allow me wrap my arms around you when you’re hurt?
When you’re 9 and you fall off your bike?
When you’re 25 and your heart is broken?
When you’re 44 and your patience is thin?
When you’re 68 and you’re sick?

When will you be too old to lay your head in your mommy’s lap? Tell me now so I may grip that last cuddle with my whole memory.

2:24 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

My contribution to another wonderful HBM project:

Thanks for the inspiration.

3:38 PM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

I try... canto uno

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote this at the beginnig of last year's school year. I am at a bit of a different stage which in some ways makes the physical connection for one's children that much more desperate. Believe me, it is fleeting. I now hunger for those long ago moments.

Check out the third post on this page. Not as eloquent, but real.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Jessi Louise said...

This is my first time at your blog and I found your words completely inspiring. Here is my contribution:



11:35 AM  
Blogger Blog said...

I don't think I could put it better than you just did.... But, sometime this week, I will sit and ponder it and post.

I think you are absolutely fabulous. Blog away. In your way. Thank you.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Cristina said...

Thank you for the writing prompt, Catherine. I've been enjoying reading all of the posts that have been written in response to this.

Here is a link to my entry.

5:16 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Alright, I decided to tackle this topic, and the messy results are up at my blog.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Paige said...

Thank you so much for this. I posted something at www.tnmtcur.blogspot.com/2006/08/in-response-to-this-by-her-bad-mother.html

6:38 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

God bless you for starting this discussion. I cried, holding my daughter in lap, she wearing nothing but her diaper. You expressed all the inarticulate things I was feeling this morning as I watched her sleep.
Working on my own post; will send you link. Seriously, can't thank you enough for your willingness to ask these questions.

11:18 AM  
Blogger MM said...

I'm at a loss, definitely, on this one. I know the feelings you are describing- the skin, the skin, the skin! I say when I kiss her back.. and still, I've worried, I've held back from describing the intensity of my love for her (and it has been that way for all six of them.) So. I don't. But I'd be happy to read yours, because I surely can identify.

12:17 AM  
Blogger MM said...

I'm at a loss, definitely, on this one. I know the feelings you are describing- the skin, the skin, the skin! I say when I kiss her back.. and still, I've worried, I've held back from describing the intensity of my love for her (and it has been that way for all six of them.) So. I don't. But I'd be happy to read yours, because I surely can identify.

12:17 AM  
Blogger MM said...

I'm definitely at a loss here- the skin, the skin the skin I say when I kiss her back and tickle the back of her neck- she is so soft! I've tried, and given up. But I'll be happy to read whatever you come up with, because I surely can identify.

12:18 AM  
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3:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting site. Blog is very good. I am happy that I think the same!

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2:24 AM  
Blogger Al_Pal said...

I tend to go with "sensual" when speaking of non-sexual physical pleasure. ;p

1:57 AM  

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