Being related / by Christina Rosalie

I drive my mother to the airport early, and on the way home stop for straight-from-the oven croissants and scones. I get a small coffee in a paper cup with maple syrup and cream, and snatch a little solitary time at my computer, nibbling on a date scone with lemon icing. It is only a matter of minutes before Bean and DH burst from the bedroom, tousle headed and ready for the day, but right now our tiny house is quiet, save for the cats who race in circles around the room.

Having a mother, and being a mother is a polarity I thought about often this weekend—How someday, invariably, my boy will grow up and his thoughts and ideas will shear away from mine like an ice berg from the polar cap. With unswirving certainty he’ll find criticisms of me; see me as different from him in fundamental ways.

Blood is a limited connective tissue—biological relation is only a small part of who we become, and I felt that this weekend, talking with my mother. Sitting next to her on the couch, I see small pieces of myself: my cheekbones are like hers, my nose. Occasionally, I hear a phrase, or a handful of sentences she says that wrap their way around an idea, and resonate with me. But most of the time her conviction, her intensely burning idealism, and her far flung beliefs: in palmistry, astrology, anthroposophy, cosmology, numerology, cause me to veer the other way. The outlines of our differences are stark.

I lean towards relativism; my reality shaped more by day to day experience than by esotericism. I value truth—both sacred and factual, as it resonates for me, but I don’t expect other’s to see it as I do. There are as many ways for knowing god as there are people; similarly for living a good life or raising children.

Childrearing came up a lot over the past few days, and I found myself always second guessing the things I’ve grown accustomed to trusting. Her perspective on raising a child is based on the implementation of a strict rhythm: meals and bed times marked indelibly onto the meridians if the day. She values a certain stoicism too: crying it out is a method that works for her, and doesn’t rip apart her every nerve.

The teacher in me has already for years valued the way children thrive in the security of a structured day—and routine is an important, predictable background onto which the daily activities are superimposed. But I also feel like there is a place for the willy-nilly glee of deviation; of following a whim, of breakfast in bed, of dinner out late on occasion, or skipping a nap for the sake of an adventure.

I try to exhale and shake off the residual tension that’s found its way to my shoulders and heart over the past couple of days. Outside rain is falling again and the cherry blossoms are just about to burst into bloom. Suddenly the house is filled with shrieking, and the patter of small running feet, coffee being made, the cats being chased round and round the kitchen island. On the counter, the bright orange roses my mother brought home for me from the market. We’re both growing.