A gentle transition to motherhood

Talking to Mom

Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Tracy and MomI was my mom’s only and very unexpected child. For four months, my long-declared infertile mother thought I was an irritable appendix. She drank a glass of champagne every morning to quiet the nausea, and when an x-ray finally revealed her stowaway, she says she laughed until she cried.

It’s Mother’s Day — there’s so much I could say about growing up with my mom, and then being her grown-up daughter. Her commitment to elegance, always (she sent me to modeling school in our tiny Mendocino County town). Her joy at lucking into motherhood and having the chance to give the love she’d missed as an orphan.  Her occasional mysterious (to me) retreats into anxious melancholy.  Her ability to shop – oh she could shop the hell out of downtown San Francisco — my mother was a wonder of impeccable taste mixed with eagle-eyed bargain hunting.  I could also say a few things about my intellectual mother’s mixed feelings about being a housewife (I sense she’d have related to those Bletchley Circle women).

But on this Mother’s Day I want to talk about talking to her.  Or rather, I want to share about the way she listened. She made a note of my first word – cookie – and I believe she tried to record them all after that. My mother listened with zeal.

I’d sit on the edge of mom’s bed (my parents spent all their free time, it seems, laid on their bed reading). She’d move her legs a little to make room for me, and I’d talk. And she’d listen. Not waiting for me to be finished, not distracted. Just listening.

What a gift I was given, to be heard, to discuss the dramas of a preschooler, the social and academic discoveries and frustrations of the elementary years. Even now I wake up some mornings expecting to step across the hall of my childhood home to sit on the edge of my mother’s bed and pour out the night’s amazing dream.  I can still see her there in her bed in that familiar nightie, an Agatha Christie novel idle on her chest.

During the gruesome junior high and high school years I might have stopped talking to her – but because I was determined to win an Academy Award, she signed me up for acting classes, and they were an hour’s drive away. Then it was me with the book as she drove. And always, at some point in the commute my book would close and we would talk. Sometimes about dumb names people give their kids, or the best way to handle underarm hair, and sometimes about things like love and sex and the future. She drove, and she focused and she listened.

Later she listened through the boyfriends and my melodramatic love story and then babies. And when I learned my third “baby” was twins, she laughed on the other end of the phone until she cried, and that made me laugh, and for the first time it was really funny and so wonderful to have my own surprise pregnancy, going from two to four children in a flash.  Through my young-mom years she was ready to remind me of things like how to cook a chicken and how she thought I was brave and strong even though I was struggling.

Her phone number is still in my fingertips. I can’t call her now, but my mother’s gift of valuing my words and the ordinary moments of my life is still at work in all of my ordinary days. She taught me what I say has value, and that things don’t have to be perfect to be worth saying. And she taught me that intimacy can be consistent, and that I should expect to find it in my everyday life.

I can still hear the echo of her laughter at the first news of me, and still feel the strength her listening.

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HypnoMothering, celebrating all the beautiful mamas out there everywhere, happiest of Mothers Day to each one of you!

Kira Dorrian and Tracy Adams are Seattle-based Clinical Hypnotherapists and HypnoBirthing® Practitioners, each a mom of twins. Together they have created HypnoMothering™, a class designed to help prepare women for a gentle transition into motherhood, and a safe space for new mothers to be seen, heard, and supported.

2 Comments

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  1. Alan

    Thanks for sharing these reflections. I feel I know your mother a bit better now.

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