It was as if my life began the moment she gasped her first breath and it was not; it was the moment my life began anew—my life as a mother. This new life was supposed to be my smooth paved roadway fresh and free from debris—the one I merged back onto after the bumpy detours and construction of the past. But, fate and the universe have plans of their own. Instead, as our family drew our first breaths of air together our caravan careened off-road and entered an equally bumpy, detour filled journey with no maps, no GPS, and no intention of ever returning to the well-traveled, smooth-paved roadway the typical travelers sojourn.
My tumultuous past is visibly mapped out in faint white juts that jaunt across the olive skin of my arms and traverse into deep sinewy canyons; they are detours that innocent little fingers have always known and lovingly traced as they soothed themselves to sleep. Disconnected from and ashamed of such a burdensome history and its physical manifestations, I hoped to leave it all behind when those innocent beings entered my world.
The canyons healed long before we drew those breaths together and the map of my past rarely crossed the junket of my mind until the hot rays of the summer sun shed the layers of concealing sleeve above and revealed the delineations below, and deepened the hue of the surrounding skin and divulged my Mediterranean descent.
Recently the topography was more present; my map was mentioned and questioned by those not as kind and innocent as my tribe. I felt thrown asunder. How many noticed and what did they think about it? Did they think it undermined my ability to navigate the rocky roads of our current journey? Because, I certainly started to fear that myself.
I began to have a deep desire to erase the pox-marked skin of my arms, to eradicate the troublesome nature of my past, and pretend that my life began somewhere on my more recent track; but, I could do that no more than I could miraculously heal my daughter’s rare disease, right our off-road travels, and soften our bumpy trail. Confidence eroded from under me like soil washed from a mud packed path under the stress of a traversing vehicle.
In the growing shadows of the late evening my son ran his fingers across the deep crevasse vertically demarcated in my inner elbow and my mind traced back into the shadows of my past. He lovingly soothed himself as he always had on “Mommy’s tickling spot,” and gently stroked as he let the bumps and bruises gained during the travels of his day melt away in my loving embrace. I held the juxtaposition of past and present. How very similar and very different the constant crisis, arduous and pain-filled days. In that moment, as our breathing slowed and synced I also held the resilience, the great love, and the courage.
I realized all the light to match the dark—the yin to the yang—that helped me survive the hard course of my past—all that I learned—prepared me for riding through the chaos of the present. I breathed with him bolstered by a new confidence. It mattered not the thoughts of others but the knowledge of my soul.
The factors of my resilience pulled me from the precipice and aided me along my way in the past, and, because, I exercised them, out of necessity, I know them intimately and impart them intuitively to my children. I emanate them as our breathing syncs and they trace the pathways of my love; they take from it all the deep devotion, boundless resilience, passion, advocacy, respect, and kindness they need along the way.