This weekend I received a gift. It was the copy edits of my new book. Before I sat down to go through the editorial suggestions, suddenly I discovered there were chores to be done, tasks to be completed. I circled the apartment like a restless tiger, eying the computer as I passed by my study door on my way back and forth to do laundry, water the plants, wash dishes … anything rather than face the book. On the other hand, there was an excitement, an exhilaration accompanying my restlessness as I prowled around alone in my home – life partner away at a conference – with only Ada Mae asleep, curled up in a ball on my desk waiting for me to take my place next to her and the computer. It was almost as if my second child had come home, for Mother’s Day. I seemed to be putting off the best part of the weekend to last. Holding it out there as a prize to be savored and cherished, a back drop for the mundane, ordinary, lonely moments of living the day-to-day constantly, solidly.
This is new for me – the feeling of a second child coming home to visit. After I had my one and only son I often wondered how I might have embraced a second child. I could not imagine that I would have any love left in me, for I loved Gilad so much from the very instant I saw his face, as he lay in the crib by the side of my hospital bed almost 35 years ago. We seemed to stare at each other for what was an eternity, as he sized me up. I imagined him thinking, "Hm … I wonder what she’s like? I wonder how it will be, living and growing with her?" I stared at him in return amazed at how much he resembled my father, seeing the generations of his father’s and my families in his eyes, nose, and the shape of his lips.
Oh, how I wanted to give him everything I never had! On the day of his birth, I had plans and dreams as I realized that my own body had been in some way responsible for that incredible human creation lying by my side, waiting on me for love, warmth, and kindness. I have never, before or since, experienced such an awesome moment in my life.
Five years ago my first book was published, and while it is not to be compared with the feelings I experienced on Gilad’s birth day, there was something similar. A creation from my mind, put out there for the world to read. A piece of my inner self, thoughts, ideas, opinions for others to share. And, once again, the emotions were so intense, I could not imagine being able to embrace a second one.
Indeed, I discovered, writing a book is as intimate an act as it is public.
This weekend, here it was, my second book waiting in my inbox on the computer. My next "mind creation," anticipating the massaging and readjusting I might do within the coming hours, days ahead. Finally, I gave myself permission to sit down and read it through. I was humbled and oh, so grateful, by the way the editors had allowed me to tell my story, artfully preserving my voice while, at the same time, making the book stronger with their suggestions and probings.
I awoke this morning after working on the book all day yesterday, the air was clear and crisp, robins and cardinals calling out energetically, brilliantly, as the sun bathed the rain drenched woods, trees, blossoms, and earth. I reached my arms way up to the ceiling breathing deeply in a wide yoga-type stretch, and stumbled out onto the patio with coffee mug in hand. A twinge of longing for my son this Mother’s Day morning was quickly overcome by the excitement that I could read my book again today, to tweak and finalize the edits.
It felt like a birth day.
How apt, I thought. A day for mothers, a day of birth. Just a couple weeks shy of my own birthday, which I will be celebrating with my own ninety-one year-old mother in Israel.
My mother, who gave me a type writer when I was sixteen because she wanted me to write! My mother, who hated my first book but allowed herself as she told me recently, "to learn new things," and work through the pain between us to the other side, closer, brighter, stronger. My mother, to whom this second book is dedicated thus:
To my mother, Beryl Kate Salis Liberman,
who wrote to me a few years ago:
I always knew you would be right there,
From your mother who always loved you.
For, even as we have struggled to find a way to express our love for one another, so have I discovered her strength, courage, humor, and love of life within me.
Happy Mother’s Day to Beryl and Happy Mother’s Day to me,
alone, but oh so happy at my computer, sharing this day with all the
readers who might stop on by on the way to the rest of their day.
But, most of all, Happy Mother’s Day to my darling son, whose journey began with me over three decades ago.
As I complete my second book, I am most grateful to realize just how much his and my relationship is threaded through the fabric of my story, and all I have learned so far about being a mother.
[I dedicate this post to David Heath at Redleaf Press]