16 August 2006

Mothering & Home

I am reading a book at the moment called Unless by Carol Shields. It is about a mother who is quite successful and has all that we hope for, loving family, beautiful home, satisfying career etc. Her eldest daughter suddnely withdraws from the world, abandoning university to sit on a street corner, wearing a sign that reads only 'goodness'. What a frightening reality for a mother. I haven't finished the book yet, but the concept of it haunts me.
I remember when I went on holidays once I met an older woman and we were discussing our daughters. Hers was older than mine, but had pursued similar things, and then unexpectedly dropped out. She had got caught up with a shady boyfriend and turned her future plans on their head. Her mother was shattered and I was scared. I remember having nightmares all summer that my daughter would have some catastrophic thing that would 'ruin' her future.
I began to reflect on my own pathway through to adulthood, (I think I arrived a couple of years ago, despite getting grey hairs and wrinkles so young). I realised my parents were probably pretty concerned about some of the routes I'd taken.
I'm proud and pleased with my daughter and I expect she will take some interesting paths and I, like my parents did for me and other mothers all over the planet will still love her and hope for the best for her. When people tell me how amazing and wonderful she is I feel proud and grateful to the powers that be. I was discussing this with a work colleague last week and we agreed, his daughters are much older too, that you never feel you can relax, that the mission is accomplished.
Getting back to the book, there is this great quote about homes in it and I like it.

"Our house if full of rough corners that seem to me just about to come into their full beauty. I often think of how Vicnete Verdu, the Spanish writer, spoke of houses as existing between reality and desire, what we want and what we already have. Probably this old house is not as lovely as I believe. My eyes are curtained over. I used to be able to see the separate rooms with their colours and spaces, but now I can't. I've overvalued its woody, whorled coves and harbours, convincing myself of an architectural spaciousness and, at the same time, coziness.." (p57)
I love it and I identify with those sentiments. She goes on to say she should have employed a decorator a long time ago. I have been a decorator, so have even less excuse for the tangle of styles and half completed schemes in my home, yet it is my home and there are corners of it that I find harmony and promise of visions to be realised.

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