My Tree and Bearer Of Water: Mama, I See You.
Mama, I see you. And in you I see me because I am you and came from you.
In the parts of myself I’ve pushed away with relentless strength, I see you too; my mirror and my mother, for all that you are and in all you are not. I regret the times I’ve made you feel small, because I’ve felt that small too.
I regret when I’ve thought I knew more than you — arrogantly eager though I was for answers in my feeble self-preservation — because you have taught me all I know.
Yes I may know some facts you don’t and understand the demands and challenges of this technological age; I may have a college degree on my back that I know was made possible in part by you; and perhaps in some ways I have grown to understand things you don’t, but only because you gave to me the opportunities you never had.
Because you only hoped that one day the little one you brought into this world would somehow learn to do it better than you.
Isn’t that what all parents hope for, dear Mama? That one day your child can see beyond you and in that mere fact know you did something right?
And knowing still that they will never know what you know until the day they let you go, and in that bittersweet paradox, without you there to tell this to, will see you even more.
But at its most base and simple, with years ahead to teach me more, this I already know: you gave me life and love. That core essential.
You sacrificed so much of your own for the chance of my happiness and survival, knowing full well that your labors would one day be challenged by the necessary flight from the nest, where everything will be learned once again; scared, ignorant and alone.
And in this strange new world I’ve seen things. In my adorations, decisions and success, I’ve seen you in me. In idiosyncratic movements, mumbles and laughs, I see you too.
And in the parts of me I often subdue to avoid the world’s cruel, laughing finger crushing me with its cynical disapproval, I see you as well.
And as I welcome in the latter — the uninhibited, wild woman; the basker in all things real, beautiful or ugly; the pure and vulnerable child still figuring it out in an adult’s body, yearning for an outlet to be heard; and the old soul, too tired and wise to give a flying shit what the world and others think — I see me, now welcoming you in all the more.
The older I grow, the more I know who you are. The you that is beyond mother, wife, caretaker, friend or any other beautiful version of you presented to the world; but the you that is human, that is woman.
A legacy rooted in our ages, an understanding passed on only by and to those willing and able to receive it.
It is in the prophetic remarks, nonchalantly shared as humble armor from being misunderstood: “When you’re married, you’ll understand. When you’re a mother, you’ll know. When you lose those you love, you will see.”
These are the eternal branches of the maternal. The milk that nourishes the weak and hungry, like Nature’s rain relinquishing drought through her ever-abundant seeds of life.
And just like the child becoming an adult of their own, ignoring and replacing — though often not consciously — the foundation bestowed upon them in the safe maternal arms of childhood with life’s new, hard-learned lessons gained solely alone, the earth too will break its solid foundation created through years of nurturing seedlings, to bend and burn, fissure and crack, implode and explode, renewing on its own before the healing rain can breed life and perspective once again.
All this I see, and for all this I love you more. My foundation, my tree, the bearer of water on barren land, you are all this and so much more.
For in me will grow the endless seeds of your love, passed on through the veins of our ages to those who will one day see themselves, and in them, me and you once again.
Arielle Paul is a Los Angeles based writer, musician and artist. She graduated from UC Berkeley with Phi Beta Kappa honors, double-majoring in English and Performance studies. A self-proclaimed renaissance woman, this DIY junkie and AirBnB entrepreneur is known to spontaneously venture new pastures in her self-renovated 1962 Scotsman trailer with her husband and cat Steamer. She is currently recording an album of original music and writing her first book, a memoir about turning 30. You could find more information on Arielle and her various projects via her blog, website or Facebook.