It’s a strange symptom of being a mother, and one I really didn’t expect. This abundance of feeling. This universal sadness. These bitter tastes of pain, refluxing like vile, that you experience completely out of the blue.
When somebody flippantly mentions a news story about a kidnapped child; when you have that moment in the grocery store when you thought your husband had eyes on your toddler and it turns out he thought the same about you, those ten seconds that last a lifetime as you search for your son; when you have any thought of something, anything, horrific happening to your child. That pain, so real and visceral and alive. I had a vague notion, but truly no real idea that feelings so intense were possible. That they could rock your foundation so dramatically. Leave you breathless so quickly. “These little earthquakes.”
For the first time in my life I can honestly say I will fight to the death, screaming and gouging and clawing, for someone else. Take me instead, or I’ll die trying.
Being a mother has made me an animal.
Do not get me wrong, I would take these gut wrenches tenfold, for what exists on the flipside. The love that makes you feel like a huge bud is opening inside your chest, so wide and so abundant that you could open up your mouth and sing out petals. Smiling until your face aches, no care for the laughter lines which suddenly crease your face these days.
And it is a power so intoxicating if you are able to harness these feelings. When you have those moments in the room, on set, on stage, with another actor, and you cease ‘acting’ at all. You just are. A human in all your vulnerable glory. To be able to purge all that pain and love through your words, pouring out in your breath. An overflowing chalice. A vessel. A channel through which something truly spiritual passes.
I find it fascinating that an experience which has brought me so much closer to my fundamental nature has helped so much with my craft, one which I’m often guilty of over intellectualizing. Motherhood, to some extent, takes care of itself. Literally, once the seed is planted, it grows of it’s own accord. Of course, the more you water and nourish it, the stronger it will become. But by letting it be, and trusting the process, it simply knows what to do. All you must do is listen and allow yourself to be led from moment to moment.
To stay present is another valuable lesson of parenthood. It’s those moments where you get ahead of yourself that the fear creeps in (and oh, what fear), that you drift off into worry and stop concentrating on those first steps, and your son scrapes his knee and you have missed life happening right in front of you. For that is where life lives, in each tiny moment.
Motherhood brings you slap bang into the here and now. Which sometimes is excruciatingly hard, but; like that moment that the camera rolls and you have no idea what is going to come out of your mouth; if you can just accept, release, and let go, your instinct will know what to do. The rest takes care of itself.
E. B. is a working actor and member of our BGB Community.