As we awake to Mother’s Day here in Australia, my mom is so close in my thoughts. Well, she is always. My mom, Lawson’s mom, all of my aunts, cousins and friends who have mothered me over the years all are. I really could use a dose of that mothering now. How about you? I would give so much to have a day with my mom and my girls all together again, especially one where my mom felt good and there was not a pandemic sweeping the world. My mom suffered from chronic pain the last few years of her life. A serious car accident just a few months after losing my dad and an undiagnosed gallbladder issue that ultimately led to her death took a lot of my mom’s spark. And boy did she have spark! She was sparkle and pizzaz to me and my dad’s quiet sensitivity. She made things fun! She was also fierce and determined and outspoken. My parents had been married 15 years when I came along, but she never gave up hope in all those years.. She desperately wanted to be a mom. Actually she wanted to be called mama and was quite disappointed when I dropped that in favor of mom sometime during my teen years. I thought mama sounded too old fashioned and as a child who perceived her parents as ancient due to that long wait for me to come along, I was all about not being old fashioned. As with many mothers who have tried many years to get pregnant and have gone through a traumatic birth like my mom did with me, she was always worried about losing me. I thought she hovered a bit too much. Now I have far more compassion for what she must have been feeling. This is how it is isn’t it? The perspective of adulthood, becoming a mom myself and now navigating life without my mom all make things clearer and raise my empathy for all my mom went through. And in a charming twist that I love, my oldest daughter calls me mama quite often and I don’t find it old fashioned at all. My Sophie is also showing signs of having inherited her Nonnie’s green thumb. And both Sophie and Eve have my mom’s joi de vivre, love of beauty, commitment to friends and zest for living! It helps to see how all the love she showered them with has helped produce such lovely young women! I am so lucky to have been my mama’s daughter and to be mom to my own amazing daughters!
Sadly, we don’t have as many pictures of Lawson’s mom with us primarily because he isn’t on facebook much and that is where most of my old photos come from as all of our photos are in storage back in the US.
In keeping with my thinking as a child that my parents were old (which they absolutely were not nor would they be considered to be today at 36 and 38 at the time of my birth), my parents went through the Depression. I have been wondering what they would be thinking about all that is happening in the world right now. What would their advice be in navigating this? I feel certain they would be devastated by what is happening in the US and wonder about what has happened to their country. I wish I could process it all with them. Any child who grew up with a parent who went through the Depression knows that some of that anxiety probably got passed on to them. It certainly did me. How about you? What have you been feeling during this incredibly scary time in our world? This pandemic has upended life for us all but more importantly it has been tragic for some We have been some of the fortunate ones who have been able to shelter in place in relative comfort and have remained symptom free. While we have struggled with the isolation many are feeling, we know we are fortunate. Our hearts break for those who have lost loved one’s to this virus. I can’t help but think of all those who will be numb with loss this mothers day. I was able to hold my mothers hand as she passed away. What must it be like for those facing this virus without a hand to hold? What must it be like to lose someone you love to this virus? We have appreciated how here in Australia they have shared a bit about each of those who have passed away from the virus. It is not abstract. It is very real. It is important to put faces to the numbers because only then can we enter into a place of true compassion. It could happen to someone we love. I never want to forget that.
We are way too familiar with grief. Over the past decade we have lost our parents, an aunt who was like a second mom, two of our doggies and two of my best friends We have also faced other kinds of loss . Grief comes from all forms of loss but changes you every single time it comes to visit and it is here on our doorstep again. It is not just a personal grief this time though This grief is one that much of the world is feeling yet it has somehow left many feeling more isolated than united. Why would we not pull together in the midst of a pandemic? Why are some countries doing it better than others? I don’t have the answers but I do know the collective loss is very real. I feel it. Our family feels it. Maybe we feel it so acutely because as expats our hearts keep getting tugged back home where there seems to be such division I know for certain social media while an incredible tool for connection often leaves me turned inside out from the mercurial nature of it. Human behavior on social media is well….interesting at best, infuriating and hurtful at some of it’s worst. I have found the minimization of the loss that some are facing unconscionable. This is not like the flu. I contemplate chucking the whole thing almost every single day but just can’t seem to do it so instead end up just popping on for a quick bit then jumping off to spare myself the emotional rollercoaster of the feed. We are oh so connected these days yet at least for our family (because we all talk about this kind of thing a lot) it is easy to still feel isolated and I don’t think that’s just because we are expats.
So where does that leave us? Or lead us? Well, for us it’s back to our spiritual life, our internal life and cultivating that. I know for sure that life will be somewhat different for us on the other side of this quarantine. I posted this quote by the trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk on our instagram page the other day “We need to organize our interior lives because our exterior structure has disappeared”. While the interior aspect of my/our life has always been one of our highest priorities, it is in the periods where I am isolated that I am most vulnerable, as I think many of us are, and thus need these inner reserves the most. As so much of what we have counted on from the outside goes through it’s own reorganization and in some cases dissolution, we need our inner resources to be fortified all the more.
How are you doing? What kind of things are you doing to nurture yourself? How has your world changed through this crisis? How are you finding connection? We really are interested.
I should be writing this Mothers Day post to you from Melbourne this week instead of writing about a pandemic and grief. It was to be our first trip there, a Mother’s Day gift. While there have been baby steps back to a new normal here, it will be a while before we are able to take that trip. It is our sincere hope that travel restrictions will ease up within Australia by July as we need to get to the US Embassy to renew Eve’s passport due to the fact that she was a minor when her current passport was issued. It is a small thing in the big scheme of things but there is something about having an expired passport while abroad that is kind of scary. It doesn’t look like there will be any travel back to the US in the foreseeable future either which I have relied on being able to do the whole of my time here. Having the thought “I can jump on a flight back to the US if I need to” has kept me brave even if I didn’t do it hardly at all. Hmmm…back to needing those inner reserves for bravery! I am always thinking that my parents are somehow here with me, seeing this whole adventure unfold. I think they would like Australia quite a lot as it reminds us so much of our own childhoods in the States with all the modern conveniences of today. If this pandemic had happened in the 1970’s, I think the US would have handled it a bit more like Australia has handled it in 2020. It is interesting to experience one reality but to watch your homeland experience a different reality. It is unsettling. There is talk of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand as the two countries are similarly tackling the containment of the virus. I think it is important to add that the two countries have vastly different political leaders – one conservative, the other liberal – and yet they are very united in how they have tackled this pandemic. It can be done regardless of political affiliation. I think this is important to remember as we look to the future. As expats, we view our country from afar and frankly right now I wish more Americans had that opportunity. Australia is far from perfect but so too is the US. The biggest difference I see is America is so divided and partisan that the addressing of issues feels almost impossible which makes safety challenging. Our daughters feel that they will have a better, safer future here than in the US….that breaks my heart. They are lucky to have options but that doesn’t take away our worry for our homeland. If anything this has made us more patriotic. Objectivity is a good thing. We are grateful for how this expat adventure has stretched us personally, expanded our perspective and has given us an added dose of objectivity
In the midst of such worldwide upheaval, we hope that this Mother’s Day finds you safe and healthy. We remain deeply appreciative for your friendship and for all the kind messages to us. Connection has never been more important and we never take it for granted! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Stay safe friends! And, Happy Mother’s Day! We leave you with this fabulous sunrise and hearts full of gratitude for your presence in our life.