Away back when, wiggling in my mother’s womb, I listened to her loving heartbeat. In that steady, reassuring cadence, I heard the most intimate murmurings of her soul—the fears and doubts she harboured, the hopes and aspirations she nurtured.
Many of those, of course, were focused on me, her firstborn child.
Will I deliver a healthy baby? Will I be a good mother? Will I give him a happy, successful start to his life? Will I make him proud of me?
She couldn’t know the answers to those questions, of course. Not then, not yet. But she was an extraordinary woman, my mother, and she turned her formidable mind and powerful will to the shaping of our lives together. To make it so.
In time, four more children followed, my siblings, and I hope they, too, were attuned to the musings and melodies she would have had for them. I heard her refrains for me, echoing and resonating in that remembered, rhythmic beating of her heart, until the day she died. Even now, whenever I’m confronted with challenges and doubts, a quiet, firm voice speaks to me from deep inside, offering care, counsel, and courage. Her voice.
So the beat goes on.
When my two daughters were born, I strove from the beginning to insinuate myself into their wee hearts, yearning to know the singing of their souls. I imagined I could hear it, modulated by their intrepid heartbeats, and my own soul sang back to them, every chance I got, conveying my doubts and fears, my hopes and aspirations.
Will I be here for you when you need me? Will I make you proud of me? Will you love me unconditionally, as I already love you?
I proudly watched as they grew from infancy to adulthood, strong, independent, and loving. And I was humbled time and time again, realizing I was the nexus between these remarkable women, my mother and my daughters. A biological bond, and more, I hoped—a protector, a guide, and ultimately an unabashed admirer.
My wife—a fiercely-loving mother in her own right—had as great an influence as I, perhaps greater, on our girls. But it is I who connects them with my mother.
And now our daughters are themselves mothers—five wonderful grandchildren for Nana and me. Their hearts beat now in harmony with the hearts of their children, their souls connect with the same passion we once shared. I cannot know for certain, but I imagine these young mothers sing the same heart-songs, straight from the soul, that I first heard from my mother.
Will I always be your friend? Will I live up to what you expect of me? Will I be the mother you would have me be?
Knowing my daughters as I do, I believe they will answer those eternal questions affirmatively and beyond doubt, just as I witnessed with my mother. For they possess the very same hearts—beating the very same rhythms for those same good reasons—forever crooning the songs of the soul I first heard in the womb.
And the beat goes on.