Reincarnated Motherhood


Let me be very frank. I have no religious beliefs whatsoever. I have no faith at all and only believe in visible, provable, measurable and scientific facts. And, I’m not sure if there’s a big difference between religiosity and spirituality, so I wouldn’t call me the latter, either. Usually, I just call myself secular.
I know. You might decide you don’t like me after this admission. It’s okay. This piece isn’t about religion at all. It’s about humanity and parenthood. We may all feel and believe differing things,  but we’re all human beings and we’re all either parents or have been parented, or both. So, stay a while and read on. You might find my words redeeming after all.
This morning, my daughter and I began our Tuesday morning like we do most weekdays: by eating breakfast while watching Daniel Tiger on PBS. O EM GEE! I let my 16-month-old watch TV? Screen time before the age of TWO! And while eating?? Blasphemy! Good thing I’m a non-believer! Stay with me. You might still find this redeeming.
Anyway. We were watching a new episode of this great cartoon about a cute little tiger who lives with his loving and emotionally aware family and his accepting friends, in the “land of make-believe”. The program, which is based on the principles of the work of the great and iconic Mr. Rogers, is lovely, uplifting and charming, and a favorite of mine and my daughter’s. Today’s episode was about going through and surviving a big storm. Basically, it was teaching kids to deal with the feelings and the uncertainties they would experience when going through of a natural disaster. In it, the adults told the kids to hold the grown-ups’ hands, follow the plan and know that the adults will keep them safe. “You’re safe”, Mr. and Mrs. Tiger repeatedly said to their little boy and his little friends. They said it so emphatically. It sounded so assuredly. It felt so comforting to hear them say it, even to my grown-up  jaded ears. I can’t imagine how comforting it would seem to a young child watching. The message: when facing big scary events, hold on to your parents and know that you’re safe. Yes, surely I want my daughter to know and believe that I and her  father will keep her safe, should anything scary happen. Such a great lesson!
Then I felt my cheeks getting wet and my tears rolling down my face. I was caught off-guard by my reaction. As a parent of a child living a middle income life in America, I totally identified with the message of this show. But, the child within me who was born in Iran and who lived through and survived a revolution, war, displacement and exile, that child felt so much fear, loss, melancholy and sadness that my uncontrollable tears this morning were hers. My life’s storm began at the age of ten and lasted through most of my teens. And no amount of hand holding and reassuring from the grow-ups in my life took away the fears or could ever bring me the stability and safety I needed. There was no plan to help us deal with losing everything, including the land we were born in. There was no one who could help make me whole. And, I live with the inherent knowledge that sometimes, parents cannot make their children safe, simply by following a plan, taking shelter, holding hands and calmly saying “you’re safe”.
As I hid behind my cereal bowl, shaking, crying and hoping that my daughter was too distracted to notice it all, I couldn’t help but shed tears in memory of the little Syrian boy whose body washed ashore Turkish waters the other week. I can’t imagine the storm he and his family had endured, but I can imagine how his parents held on to him, assuring him that he’ll be safe. How devastating to live with the knowledge that, sometimes, no one will be able to keep you safe. It’s the curse some of us live with all our lives, if we’re lucky enough to survive our lives’ storms and turmoils.
This is an example of what I call reincarnated motherhood. I, the creation of my past and all of my experiences, am reincarnated as a mom over and over. I get to come back, this time as the grown-up, to deal with the issues, losses and hurts of my childhood, as I raise my own child. As I mother my daughter, whose life is light years away from how I was raised, I am forced to face the trauma of my past life. I cannot help but to be reincarnated with each experience that’s the mirror image and the other side of the coin of having been the child I was, living the life I lived. You could advise that I need to not let my past color my present. And that would be a great piece of advice for anyone who’s had a blissfully uneventful and wonderfully stable childhood. More power to all who had that. My guess is more than a few of us weathered a storm or two as we grew up, which left their indelible marks on our psyche.
We are all engaged in the same process: being reborn continually and working on what happened to us in our earlier lives. This is where the schism comes in: being a non-believer who believes in reincarnation, being born again and again and searching and finding redemption. Being born again, not as that kid from Iran, but as an American mom raising an American kid.
Storms will find their way into my child’s life. I am certain of that. I just hope that they’re of the kind I can keep her safe from. I wish with all my heart that she won’t have be reincarnated when she has children of her own. I wish with all my soul that she have an utterly uneventful life and that she never finds herself hiding tears from her future children over her own childhood.
*I dedicate this piece to all who are suffering around the world. To the children who know nothing other than storms, and to the families who risk their lives because risking their lives is the best option there is. I hope they can convince their kids that they can keep them safe.


About Atilovesparis

I am one with many faces, states and moods. I am a liberal progressive and an old fashion romantic. I am an aspiring writer and a mother-in-waiting. I am a Francophile. I am not defined by what I do for a living, but by my goals, thoughts, ideas, hopes, views, experiences and accomplishments. I am simple and complicated. I am me...
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