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In This Issue

Goddess "" Earth "" Cosmology "" Women's Health "" Reader Contributions "" Book Reviews "" Editor's Desk

GrandMothering

Last summer, as I watched my first-born daughter ready herself for her own first-born daughter's birth, I realized that it was not only my daughter who was preparing to bring forth the new life inside her. I too was laboring to bring a newness forth in my life; struggling to find a new center, new balance. And what I needed most right then was not a make-over, a new lover, or a tropical getaway to help me cope with the fact of my own aging. What I needed was the Grandmothers; to be spirit to spirit with those ancestral women who had made the way before me; to ask them to open their old arms and welcome me as one of their own; to ask them to attend me in my time of (re)birthing, even as I tended my daughter in hers.

A few days before my granddaughter's birth, I sat down to write a call out to those countless Grandmothers. And now as my granddaughter's first birthday approaches, their response continues to resonate, strong and deep, through the grandmother-self I've newly become.

Lughnasa 2004

Today, I touched my Daughter's belly, my aging hand against her smooth skin,
waiting for the flutter and roll of my Granddaughter underneath.
And when she gave a little thump, I suddenly saw for the first time in my life,
that I am no longer in the middle. No longer steadfastly center-weighted
between my quietly waning Mother and my restlessly waxing Daughter.
It is now — undeniably — my Daughter's turn to be Full.
And as her belly has rounded out like the Moon itself, I know
the taking of light from my side has commenced, crescent by crescent,
nudging me gently but absolutely into the realm of the Grandmothers.

My daughter rocks her pelvis forward and makes her way slowly up the stairs,
every step a careful search for the tenuous balance called over-due.
And I climb after her, feeling shaky and unsteady, too.
Not because I must shift to carry a belly like hers, full and heavy with new life,
but because I must now learn the art of carrying the expanding dark;
the wisdom of endings; the dark that must remain
always more spacious than the light it contains.

But…

I am not there yet.
My Granddaughter is not yet put to her mother's breast, not yet in my grateful arms.
We three are still waiting, as all women endlessly and spirally wait,
for the peak — the moment — followed always by the change.

And so, in this in-between, here is my waiting prayer;
my invocation for balance in a changeling time;
the first verse that begins the singing of my Grandmother-self into being…


The balance of the Grandmother is not measured
in the small staccato increments that marked early motherhood.
A grandmother's balance is not told by how well she manages her time;
how many washed dishes and loads of clothes and little kisses
she can fit into a day before the night comes
and a loving partner (or a lonely bed) needs her.

A grandmother's equilibrium is not calculated in the equation
of how many hours she spends at work divided by the sum of real moments
she manages to squeeze in with each of her children.
Nor is her stability found in the disorientation of losing herself
(or what she thought herself to be)
to the tyranny of sleep deprivation, sore breasts, left-over anger — all shattered
in a second by the stunning radiant miracle of her child's clear, clear eyes.

A grandmother's balance is found instead hiding within
a darker and broader place that could never have been expected
by the bright young mother she used to be. A grandmother's balance
is held complete, within the gathering of her months, now finished and all told.
It is measured in the space between the experience she bled to earn
and the degree of her willingness to give it all away now.

A grandmother's poise is found in the ironic and clumsy dance of open arms,
welcoming what life still offers her, newly born everyday,
while reaching half-heartedly for the mantle of her own death;
the partner who has always been waiting, lovingly, for the next song to begin.

A Grandmother's stability is found in the fulcrum she has become,
weighted on one side with a still untarnished passion
yet pulled forward beyond her earthly will
to kneel and pray on the bottomless ground of time.


And so,
On the eve of my Granddaughter's birth,
May I be graced with the poise of the Grandmothers, spacious in its waning.
May my Daughter be graced with the steadiness of the Mothers, sturdy in its fullness.
And may my Granddaughter be graced with what Women, living in balance, create:
The constant yet ever adjusting pattern of Love.

Graphics Credits

  • Granddaughter © Denise Martine. Used with permission.

Denise Martine lives in Vermont with her husband, daughter and granddaughter where she tends her hearth and makes ritual garments. Visit her website at www.denisemartine.com

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