Friday, August 20, 2010
This afternoon my children were taking turns crying about bee stings, rug burns and situational injustices. Just when one would stop, the next would produce tears and reasons to claim the sacred space of Mother’s Lap. Mister had just wiggled himself into a comfortable cocoon when Sis spoke up. “I can leave if you want so that you and Mister can have the belly button talk.” I asked her what she meant, knowing that she was flexing her skills of espionage and making a bid for entrance into a conversation that I had previously told her was none of her business. “You know,” she said. “The talk you and Mister had about identical cords and how moms feed their babies when they are in their tummies.” Before I could invest myself in cognitive processes aimed at distilling her true intentions for bringing up the subject, the whole world was once again sucked into the tethered space between biological mother and child: the identical cord. A significant mispronunciation. The first and true tie of identity. Whoever chose ‘umbilical’ may have missed the higher lexical mark.
A few weeks ago, when Mister had asked me if he had a belly button, my heart had broken and bled with the weight of his understanding. “Who cut it? How did it get cut?” These are important questions, albeit detractors from the one question that lays burning under the surface. A belly button is a beautiful scar that reminds us that we passed from the protection of the womb to a place of independence. We breathe with our own lungs and feed ourselves at mealtime. But it is a scar nonetheless. A scar that tells us that before we stood alone, we were part of another; our birth a miracle, but a miracle completely dependent, growing in deep shadow, and requiring sharp scissors of separation. The question is not, “Who cut it?” but “Where did it go?” What happened to the cord of life by which bone and marrow came to be? In it’s absence it feels that things important- no, things essential- have been left behind.
Maybe as he grows I will tell my son that he cannot see the very center of his belly button because it is ever tunneling back to first loves and the rich earth of beginning. I hope that he will grow to see this scar, similar in appearance to that of all his classmates, as his glory. Both because it reminds him that he made it out into this beautiful blue earth to bless both dawn and dusk with his tender touch and seeing eye and because it tells a story, only he knows deep in his soul, of a beautiful love.