(I just have to say that this is not my normal sort of material. If you’re looking for my usual brand of snark and sarcasm you won’t find it today. Well you probably will if you see me in person. Just not in this writing).
The Rose (Bette Midler)
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed
An endless aching need
I say love it is a flower
And you it’s only seed
That never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dyin’
That never learns to live
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose
The Rose has been my favorite song since forever. My sister used to sing it in her most entertaining fake performance warbling voice when we were kids and I have loved it since. Back then I thought it was a romantic love song. I remember blaring it from the tape deck of our family Volvo. I remember laying on my bedroom floor in college after a few too many beverages and wallowing in my boyfriend angst with that song on repeat.
But when I grew up, I sang it to my babies when I rocked them because I knew all the words. Over and over and over again, I sang it.
And it never occurred to me.
Not until yesterday.
Yesterday I heard this song for the first time in a VERY long time. It hit me like a brick to the face. This song is not about romantic love. Not to me. This song is about maternal love. This song is a metaphor for my experience in becoming a mother.
See, becoming a mother didn’t come easy to me.
When I delivered my first baby, she was not met with overwhelming joy and love. She was met with overwhelming terror, anxiety, and a depth of depression that is difficult and painful to describe.
It has been nine years and those words are still particularly hard to type. The shame and guilt I carry from those first few months of my baby’s life will haunt me the rest of my days.
Please know that she was never mistreated, nor was I ever tempted to hurt her. I played the part. I did my best. I put on my bravest face and went through the motions. In fact some people who were close to me probably had no idea. I mostly hid it well.
And although on some level she may have felt my sadness, I think for the most part she was not irreparably damaged by my postpartum depression. I thank God for that. But the lack of joy I felt in those early days, weeks and months of her life hurts my heart to this day.
I knew I loved her. I loved her beyond words. But I was sad all the time. So it didn’t feel like a love that filled me up. It didn’t feel like I thought it would. It didn’t feel like I thought it was SUPPOSED to.
It was a laborious love. It was an exhausting love. It was an unreciprocated love. I depleted my whole self for her and she didn’t acknowledge it. I was so empty. And she couldn’t fill me up. I was giving everything. And she couldn’t give.
Really, I just felt emotionally and physically broken. Worse, I felt like a broken excuse for a mother. I for sure felt lonely. I most definitely felt like the road was too long; that I would never be like those lucky and strong mothers. Because I was somehow broken.
Time passed, I sought help, the light became brighter and by the grace of God, I came out of that darkness. He spared me.
And then, slowly but surely, I realized it. The seed was always there–in the winter and beneath the bitter snows–it was there.
And that seed did indeed, with the Son’s love, become the rose.
I was eventually brave enough to do it all again and have second baby.
And now being a mother means a love so deep, so ferocious that it takes my breath away sometimes.
That love is a raging river that drowns my tender heart.
It is a heart so afraid of breaking that fiercely protecting them is my most important job.
It’s a dream for their lives from which I hope to never wake.
It’s an endless aching need to provide them happiness and teach them goodness.
And sometimes that love is a razor that hurts me in ways I never knew possible.
That love is my rose. And they are my only seeds.