05 February 2014

I suppose it's all about doing something without thinking. It's nothing really, we all do it. 
Brahms. I just switch off. Especially when it's dark and rainy and the traffic lights change too quickly and I know I will be sitting here in the car for another ten minutes or so. At least. So, no Brahms and no Haydn, no Mahler, no Dvorak while we're at it. None of that stuff for me. Thank you very much.
Honestly, I do try it once in a while. I mean, it is beautiful music. I know that much. Sometimes I can just sit there in silence but most days, I quickly change channels.

Small children love their parents. They can't help it. Small children are like Konrad Lorenz's baby geese, forever following their parents. All that love, that hope, that devotion. And the trust. Thinking of this overwhelming trust my knees begin to shake.

Some days when I am waiting at a traffic light in the dark car just after I switched off the classics channel I want to sit my mother down and look into her eyes all calm and composed. I want to be the small girl I was then and at the same time I want to be the woman and the mother I am now. I want to tell her that small children can feel compassion, that they can understand and that they care, that they watch you and that sometimes what they see can be so big and heavy it hurts. I want her to know, very urgently, that small children need to understand what is going on, that whatever it is, it is not their fault. 
The Sunday mornings, the house full of Brahms, a mother crying in the kitchen, gagging from the smell of frying meat, overcome with black memories of burnt flesh, the pleading voices, the sound of breaking china, the ambulance.
Your children, I want to tell her, will stand out in the cold by the garden gate for long dark hours waiting for the headlights of your car to reappear. They will sit quiet as mice in their room waiting for you to unlock the door again. They are waiting for you to allow a hug and they will promise you to be good, to be quiet. With all their heart, they will promise you anything. For you to be better.
And when it becomes harder and harder over time, still your children will try. Until one day, when it will be easier to pretend, to lie.

And I want to tell her that I know all of this because my own daughter taught me this so beautifully from the day she was born.


  1. My mother suffered from depression badly, badly, badly. Locked herself in her room. Screamed, "I might as well kill myself!" No one in the house but me and my little brother, just kids, maybe eight and six. My brother denies this happened.
    Bless him.
    I remember deciding to be PERFECT so that my mother would not be so sad/angry. Perfect in every way. Since I couldn't actually do that, it made sense that because I had failed, she was still so angry and depressed.
    And I never really understood how angry I was at my mother for not helping me to know that her feelings weren't my responsibility or fault until I had my own children. Like you- I learned everything from them.

  2. Although I am not a mother, I've had a volunteer position helping with the babies in a daycare since last October. Now I find it even more puzzling than ever before that, when my mother was in her 60s, she told me that she didn't like babies. How could that be? She enjoyed older children but told us as children that we were not normal children because normal children liked her. What was going on with our mother was not our fault. That is so clear now and was not at all clear then.

    The world is new again as I learn from the babies.

  3. I want to write something here equally as profound as what I have read in this post. I can't. There are so many thoughts in my head right now about geese and headlights, about black memories of burnt flesh, about mothers and children and pain. I wish I had words that could end suffering, I would write them here.