Love On A Cow’s Stomach
By Jane Tawel
June 12, 2018
I was rereading a Facebook post that was regurgitated automatically for me. This is done thanks to Facebook’s ability to cow-like keep my entire life in separate Facebook stomachs and then sometimes daily, vomit those posts back out onto my current Facebook page, where I can chew on them again, deciding if I would like to re-post and thereby re-swallow the relative truth of said regurgitated post from days gone by. Here is the post hurled out for me today from 2012 – Six years ago:
Thinking of my kids and their changing lives: Quote by Buechner:”You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”
Last week I took Gordon to sign up for classes at a college where he will transfer next Fall. This weekend I will watch Verity graduate from UCLA. Last week Raoul and I were talking and mostly listening, with Justine and Clarissa about their thriving careers. When any of my kids are speaking about their respective fields, knowledge, work-days, etc., I sit there nodding but inside I am thinking, “Well, dear Fruit of My Womb, I am delightedly and completely punch-drunk proud of you but I don’t understand your specialized field of expertise at all So I will let your words wash over my head and heart but Child of Mine, you may as well be speaking Croatian because I don’t understand a word of this”.
Wow — my kids! They truly do amaze me. These are the beings who, as Buechner says, actually were carried in my stomach (okay, technically womb). But Buechner is too miserly in his analysis. I think I carry each of my Beloveds in every single pore of mine. Sometimes, I worry and I carry them in what I assume must be my metaphoric sweat pores –sweating my stinking worry like a work horse. Sometimes I fear for my children, who are never really completely adults in a mom’s heart. Fearing for them is when I carry thoughts of my kids in the cow-like stomach that is ready to vomit the fears out, knowing I will just regurgitate the anxieties in order to cow-like chew on the cuds of those fears again tomorrow.
But when you really, really love someone, you are, like Buechner says, not only aware of what the world holds for them but you are holding the world of them within you. I hold my children in my Buechner-esque stomach like a delicious warm meal that never gives me a love-stomach upset, no matter how full I am. I am daily filled by the world I carry inside of me – a whole world of love and admiration and thankfulness for my children’s and my husband, their father’s, continued presence in memory and reality in my heart, mind, limbs, and stomach. And once you have this kind of love-feast, well, then you tend to find gleanings of it in whatever field you roam. I have found it in my classes of students in loving learning together, in my friends in shared meals together; and even occasionally in a random snack of mutual understanding with a stranger.
Yesterday I stood in line at Target, a place I used to haul those four kids of mine to; and a mom of two had her little baby in one of the wraps that I used to attach my own babies with, tight to my chest. The baby was making that lamb-like crying only a brand-new minted infant makes. You know, that tremulous bleating that hits a new parent in the solar plexus. It is the cry an infant makes against an incomprehensible injustice. It is a sound that seems both so new and so old. It is the deep trembling wail dug deep from the depths of the world and raised up into the lungs of a brand new human being. And like old human beings tend to do, I turned to the new mom behind me smiling and said, “Love every minute of that sound. Someday, like I, believe it or not, you will miss it.” And that mom smiled back and for a brief instant, she and I were united in the warm love that understanding can fill even total strangers with, like shared repast fills stomachs. The baby kept bleating and the mom continued her traditional mom side-to-side dance to quiet the little baby wrapped tight against her stomach.
And I turned back to wait in line and even though no one could feel it but me, I still held in memory my little babies, crying and gurgling and cooing, wrapped against my memory-stomach. As those babies of mine go forth into the world, they are out there bleating new cries against the injustices still being dug from deep in the world. And I listen when my children let me, to their cries of joy and sorrow, their gurglings of gain and loss, their cooings with energy and weariness. And I hold those grown-up children of mine so very, very close to my heart.
Sometimes, now, when no one knows, and I am out there living in my world – maybe when I am lying awake at night, or standing in line somewhere; or when I am walking the old walks I used to take with my kiddos; remembering holding two of them by their hands, with one strapped on my back near my heart, and one wrapped tight against my stomach – Sometimes then, I pull up a memory from when we were all young together, my four children and I, and I chew on that memory like a cow with her cud.
AH! and my stomach is full. And my heart is fuller. And I am grateful for the meals of memory and satisfied with the feast of this life. And once again, I remind myself, that thanks to those I have loved, a whole world lives inside me.