This perspective came from my involvement in a shelter for single mothers at risk of abandoning their children in a what is conventionally called a third world country.
When a woman becomes a mother she becomes vulnerable, whatever they say and wherever they are. It is like standing naked in a transit zone where anyone can drop a line, throw a sentence, cast a look without bothering about consequences. A mother is an easy target for whomever is not lazy enough to criticize, evaluate, scrutinize what she does and how she does it.
A single mother is even more vulnerable. Vulnerability is one of those invisible glues that unite us, mothers.
I believe in mothers’ togetherness. Especially, the mothers’ solidarity uniting those more empowered with those less empowered. It’s about opportunities that we can create together for little human beings, whose eyes look with confidence into tomorrow. It’s about opportunities for those empowered to learn how to share their empowerment with others and also learn more about the strength of their vulnerability. It’s about opportunities for those less empowered to gain confidence and trust and to divorce despair and solitude.
What I learned from my experience at the shelter is that no matter how strong I feel, it’s ok to accept that there are times when it’s ok to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a great teacher. In motherhood and not only.
I haven’t seen her for about a year. She returned from a stay abroad. Her eyes are shining and sparkling now.
Last time we met for a coffee she was tense, her white-collar job forcing her into a pattern many white collars follow. That time dark circles marked her eyes. Today, she was happy, calm, flawless, bright, excited, emotionally generous, ageless.
She follows her dream. A vegetarian café. Over the last half a year, she has done an internship at a vegetarian restaurant abroad, getting her hands dirty in the kitchen, in parallel to on-line courses on nutrition and business. Next on her list is an internship with a restaurants management business somewhere in Belgium.
Her mind is busy, her soul is blossoming. She follows her dream. She is over her guilt and sense of obligation to her law degree. The world is hers. Here, or there, on this continent or another, she will open a vegetarian café.
She made me think of my child. What makes children happy, makes parents happy. Even if we see our kids in a white-collar job they will want to trade one day for an apron.
Reading “Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather” by the Chinese writer Gao Xingjian
I realised I was never homesick. And it made me sad.
I had a home, that is a place to stay, with a roof and walls. My emotional associations therewith were of an orphan longing to escape. As soon as the opportunity materialised itself, I joyfully departed for good, with a bag of cloths in my hand. Only to return on a couple of unhappy occasions, which became more and more distant and reduced to none over the last years.
There were many whys in my mind. Why a home is rejecting instead of welcoming? Why those who live there are trapped in their own unhappiness? Why a home is not cherished as it should be?…. .
Responses to these and other whys do not matter anymore to me. I learned to build a home in my heart. It stays with me, wherever I go. It welcomes happy thoughts and happy people. It accepts me as I am. It offers shelter when I need it. It asks nothing of me. It gives me plenty. I realise it also saves me from being homesick to the point of physical or mental illness.
I later built my own nest for my family. My life taught me to cherish and protect it and make it a space crowned with love. My partner still prefers to say “I’m coming home to you”.
Home is where love is. It can be your house. It can be a tree house. It can be your heart. What matters is how it makes you feel. Today and everyday.