Speaking a Joy Which Can’t Be Words*

August 23, 2006

EDIT: More links added below. Andthe posts that follow-up my correspondence with another blogger about the problems faced by some parents in expressing love can be found here and here. You should read these.

Last week, I wrote about my desire to write about my physical love for my daughter, about my love for the physical being that is her:


What I want to write… is an ode, of sorts, of whatever sort I can manage, to the real, the pure, the heartwrenching and heartlifting beauty of her form. To the impossible harmony of strength and fragility and softness in every curve of her limbs, every tilt of her downy head, every grasp of her fierce little hand.

And I want to write about this, too: how my love for her is physical, desperately physical. How my love for her wants to cleave to her, always, to feel her pressed against me, her breath on my cheek, her tiny hands tangled in my hair, her wee proud belly warm against my chest. How there is something of the erotic – the Platonic erotic, Socrates’ eros as a yearning for beauty, for the Form of beauty, of the Good – in that love.

But, I said, I feared that such love is inexpressable. And, I feared that writing about such love, in such terms, was imprudent. That writing about such love, in such terms, would provoke censure, or, perhaps worse, invite unwanted attention. And so I invited you all to join me in this effort, to find ways of expressing the inexpressable, and to find ways of doing so without fear.

So many of you rose to the challenge. You used your words so beautifully, and I’ve created a list of all of the posts (below) so that those words can be read and shared and so that they can inspire and encourage other parents the way that they’ve inspired and encouraged me. These posts stand, I think, as testament to the power of words and the power of community in facilitating and supporting words. The power of community in supporting love, in all of its messy glory.

And this power is so important, because some of you couldn’t write those words of love. One of you wrote me privately to say that the fear was just too great, to say that for the parent who is quote-unquote different – the parent who falls outside of the socio-political ‘norm’ of heterosexual parent, biological parent – such words might be dangerous.* Others wrote to say that a history of sexual abuse makes the topic too uncomfortable, too frightening. That sexual abuse corrupts any possible distinction between non-sexual eros and sexual eros, and that it destroys the possibility of viewing the physicality of such love as innocent.

*EDIT – the posts that follow-up this correspondence can be found here and here. You should read these.
As I said in the post that was provoked by those correspondences, I have no response to this. I have no words. It just hurts my heart.

I can’t change the world. I can’t snap my fingers and make it the sort of place where love is always good, where love is always joy, and where that joy finds expression in all forms. But – and I know that this sounds unbearably corny – I can, we can, make such a world of this space.

So keep writing your love for children. I’m going to keep a link on my sidebar to a page with a running list of links to your posts about love – posts that put into words the crazy messy wonderful experience of loving the amazing beings that are our children – and I’ll just keep adding links as you send them to me.

Because.

Speaking a Joy
Paige – In Response
Mommy off the Record – Make of Me Sanctuary
JessiLouise – Inside
Jen at UrbanMoms – That Moment
Mo-Wo – My Little Love
MotherBumper – Before I Had Bumper
The Mouse’s Nest – My Missing Piece
Bombadee’s Garden – Senses
Mom-101 – Born Smiling
Cheeky Lotus – Letter
Cool Zebras
Bubandpie – Beloved
Kittenpie – My Skin, My Soul, Child of My Loins
Binkytown – Unspoken
Melanie in Orygun – True Love
Sunshine Scribe – Living In Me
MetroMama – Not a Baby Anymore
Java Junkie and The Monkey – The Secret of My Own Addiction
A Mommy Story – The Power of Touch
Beanie Baby – Love Song
The Silent I – About A Boy
Much More Than A Mom – Indescribable
Crunchy Carpets – Untitled
I Got Two, Babe – It Becomes Me
Urban Urchin – Mothering
Petra’s Shadow – My Child
Zanti – Holding Little Hands
Mama? Mama Come Here! – My Love for You
I’m certain that I’ve missed some posts – I’m continuing to scroll comments for links. If I’ve missed you, I’m very sorry – please leave a comment here reminding me of your link! And if you haven’t written on this yet, why not give it a try, add your voice? (And remember, The Basement is open to anyone who’d like to write there…)

I’ll be adding my own post on eros and baby-love this weekend…

*With continued apologies to e.e. cummings…

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    { 38 comments }

    Dawn August 23, 2006 at 10:53 am

    I was thinking something very similar as Emily snuggled against me this morning. Her foot was lounging aginst me and I pondered her skin, her bones, the very Foot that I had helped create…and I wondered if she would be upset if I licked her foot. Then decided against it.

    KTP August 23, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    http://houseofprince.blogspot.com/2006/08/for-kiss-and-smell-of-baby-shampoo.html

    This feeling has been haunting me for days, and I did not know what to say about it. You inspired me. Thank you.

    Kristen August 23, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    I haven’t posted but I wanted to say what a beautiful idea.

    Michele August 23, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    Here is mine too:

    I Got Two, Babe: It Becomes Me

    Plunky August 23, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    I, for one, loved your post. All of the ones I read actually. I found all of them thoughtful, beautiful and, frankly, miraculous. You are lucky. I can’t wait to experience it myself one day.

    kittenpie August 23, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    Ah, I love how you pull stuff together. Talk about making a community – you are a hub, woman.

    jennster August 23, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    i just want to smooch you. you DO realize that you are the goddess of LINKY LOVE IN GOODNESS< don’t you? and that you should get paid to do this shit?! lol

    lara August 23, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    i’m working on adding my voice to this, though not in the way many others have. having no kids of my own, i can only imagine the love you are all describing so beautifully. but i feel it, already, waiting for the day i hold my own child. i’m working on a letter to my baby, my future dream come true. it’s hard, but i have a lot to say. i’ll send you a link when i get it finished.

    thanks for all these – they’re truly beautiful and inspiring.

    Mega Mom August 23, 2006 at 9:57 pm

    I feel like each time I visit you give me something new to ponder, something new to appreciate and something new to make me love you even more.

    You feel like a sanctuary for all of us. A place to come where people are good and supportive.

    Thank you Miss Catareeeen!

    Crunchy Carpets August 23, 2006 at 10:28 pm

    http://crunchy-carpets.blogspot.com/2006/08/blog-post.html

    was my effort..but not as eloquent and deep as others….

    Much More Than A Mom August 23, 2006 at 11:41 pm

    http://www.muchmorethanamom.com/?p=318

    I posted mine before I heard about yours but I think it applies…

    Lady M August 24, 2006 at 12:42 am

    Thank you for collecting these beautiful essays!

    From your post yesterday – it’s charming to see WonderBaby looking so darn photogenic while refusing to eat except while standing backwards on her high chair.

    Jenny August 24, 2006 at 1:21 am

    Great project. It’s been a joy to participate.

    sunshine scribe August 24, 2006 at 6:36 am

    You are such a cultivator of community and I think everyone who participated in this really appreciated you suggesting the task. Thank you for being you. I know that is a cheesy thing to say but it is what I mean.

    crazymumma August 24, 2006 at 10:28 am

    You missed me at Crazymumma, post is called Animal Love.

    I loved this challenge, and I spent alot of time reading others…what voices of love….

    PS – I emailed you and I left you a note over at MamaBlogsTO about Saturday….want to make sure everyone is not holding my bag…

    Her Bad Mother August 24, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Michele, KTP – adding yours asap!

    Her Bad Mother August 24, 2006 at 10:50 am

    Woops, and Crunchy Carpets, Much More Than a Mom and AC! Got yours too!

    KTP August 24, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Dear HBM,

    I added a photo this morning and somehow changed the link address. I’m sorry! I hope this doesn’t screw everything up!

    http://houseofprince.blogspot.com/2006/08/for-kiss-and-smell-of-baby-shampoo_24.html

    Izzy August 24, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    I have many posts about my kids and they all essentially say the same thing…that I adore them. But this is the most recent, FWIW. Thanks for the opportunity to share it.

    http://izzymom.com/2006/08/23/fourteen/

    soleclaw August 24, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    I finally put my thoughts to words. I am working on reading all the lovely posts by fellow moms and so far am astounded by how loving they all are.

    http://soleclaw23.blogspot.com/2006/08/how-do-i-love-thee.html

    Rock the Cradle August 24, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    This is a great list you have!

    And here’s one more link for you:
    http://rockingthecradle.blogspot.com/2006/08/i-am-so-damn-lucky.html

    Emmie (Better Make It A Double) August 24, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    Thank you for the inpiration to write and talk about something that takes courage to articulate. I’m really glad you inspired me to write about this – I focused on the dynamic between sons and mothers in particular.
    http://allthis.typepad.com/allthis/2006/08/motherlove.html

    Beanie Baby August 24, 2006 at 3:56 pm
    Glennia August 24, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    I wrote a piece that I think fits what you are talking about. It’s here:

    http://glenniacampbell.typepad.com/silenti/2006/08/about_a_boy.html

    Gidge August 24, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    It would be difficult for me to even start writing about my physical love for my kids. But I can tell you this, when they brought my firstborn back to me after his firt bath I held him close to smell him. My mom said “What are you doing” and the only answer I could give her was “Making sure he’s mine…..I can tell…….”
    I forgot I said it, she just reminded me lately.
    Possibly one of the most primal moments I’ve ever had.

    Maria August 24, 2006 at 11:00 pm

    http://maria-zanti.blogspot.com/

    Holding Little Hands was my effort at describing this Love. It’s inadequate but it truly is hard to find the words.

    Mouse August 25, 2006 at 11:11 am

    I was poking around the list and don’t think that the other lesbian mom who had posted is linked. Her blog is at:
    http://petra-s-shadow.blogspot.com/

    Much More Than A Mom August 25, 2006 at 4:29 pm

    The link to mine leads elsewhere…just a little typo/code-o!

    Just FYI!

    Her Bad Mother August 26, 2006 at 9:54 am

    Apologies to all for messed up links – ’twas Blogger!

    Fixing soonest!

    Recovering Wino August 27, 2006 at 2:33 am

    Here is one that I posted awhile back…but it continuously reminds me about falling in love with my children:

    Jen
    Stay At Home Motherdom

    http://stayathomemotherdom.clubmom.com/stay_at_home/2006/04/falling_in_love.html

    Karen August 27, 2006 at 10:59 am
    the mad momma September 2, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    there is so much to be said and sometimes words fail me… thanks for the idea and the opportunity

    http://themadmomma.blogspot.com/2006/09/physical-sometimes-overtakes-emotional.html

    the mad momma September 2, 2006 at 1:22 pm
    Jeff September 6, 2006 at 10:41 am

    don’t know if this was a Mommies-only thing or not:

    http://daddydiarytales.blogspot.com/2006/09/luff.html

    Mrs. Chicky September 12, 2006 at 8:23 am
    daysgoby November 25, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    You sent me a sweet note about this – thank you!

    But how could I resist putting my name in with such a group of outstanding bloggers?

    http://jessalogic.blogspot.com/2006/11/how-do-i-love-thee.html

    Adelas January 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    It’s been years since you posted this, but in the intarwebs, time stands still.

    Here’s mine.

    -Della

    'cuz I'm the mommy, that's why! March 19, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    We are supposed to worship and adore our children, to desire them, lust after them if you will. Those who hang up on the sexual connotation of the word have their own issues. We all understand exactly what you mean. Socrates eros is now considered obselete, but it speaks of adoration or craving. That’s the one we know

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