Western North Carolina Woman

by robilee mcIntyre

Mother lode, Mother tongue, Mother land, Mother Earth. Mother cell, Mother of invention, Mother ship. Mother-in-law, Mother house, Mother may I? Mother. The center of it all, the originator, the core of things. The core of each and every one of us, the core of every living thing, the core of our planet, universe and personal truths. Mother.

Every living thing can be traced to Mother. The spring grass around me—that already needs mowing—was sourced from an older plant, mothered if you will, by this older plant. The sunset is birthed, in a sense, by the planet's rotation. It is in this movement too that the moon is born. Without the constant movement of the earth these luminaries would be lost to us. Sisters that never meet. The sun moon and stars and all of the things that we know rely on a constant—the assurance and the presumption that life continues on, blessed by birth, regrowth, and propagation. Mother is the story of life, the food chain, evolution—even extinction. We all need to be brought here by the one who came before us. No more Mothers, no more daughters. Man traces this remarkable mother chain to the ends of his family, the ends of humanity, the ends of the galaxy, and ultimately, perhaps, to divinity. A male figurehead for the ultimate female process. Mother.

Sourcing, I find mysticism in the loop of chain just ahead of mine, knowing that secret doors and corridors leading to the freedom of my own soul are captured within it. The love of her is there too, waiting in symbiotic union with the dark hurts and fears that bring her to life. She is of course, inextricably linked to the loop ahead of her. All that she is, and all that I am is woven throughout her core, a gift from the most powerful influence of her life—her same sex parent. Mother.In that Mother word we are lost and found. Pushed free, we are sent into the world alone and yet intrinsically forever linked to our source. Mother.

Perhaps you were led into another family by forces beyond your control, let go in order to fly. Finding love and parenting, chocolate chips and snuggily bears, ending in a search for the birther. Mother. Perhaps you traveled alone the two of you, fatherless and full of adventure. Doing things the hard way, forging bonds and singular devotion. Maybe violence was in the den, abused abuser, reliving the lies of the lives led before you came along. Repeating patterns without consciousness or true intention. Perhaps it was indifference that followed you into premature adulthood, a blind eye. Do-it-yourself pioneer spirit, Big Girl while momma careered and developed her own life. Maybe it was domination. My way or the highway mommy dearest towering personality. Then again, it could just as easily have been love. True love as clear and uncomplicated as the crystal mountain stream flowing without effort along the mountainside. Love incorporating it all, finding pleasure and pain, the fear and freedom, support and wings. Love without condition, love of you as you are. Gay, straight, fat, thin, artistic, mathematical, brave or nervous. True love, a love that lets you be who you are as you are.

Perhaps she gave it her all, this parenting thing. Perhaps she gave it nothing, intuiting and reliving the ways of her ancestors, motherhood passing through her simply—channeling the previous voices into physicality, linking you to her as she is linked to her own mother. As many variables in style as genetics, we are all woven together in stings of womanhood. Each link a mother and a daughter both. Like the yin and the yang not one existing without the other. Maddening and infuriating, the chicken and the egg question. Which one is the mother? Yet, there is no mother without the daughter. No daughter without the mother.

Our Mothers our selves. Teenaged angst drives us away each from the other. Battles for the freedom of a newly independent spirit rage. We are rebels, vowing to erase her and every ideal and value stemming from her completely from our psyche. Developing traits designed to push her particular buttons, we test her limits and step our toes over finely drawn boundary lines, sometimes inadvertently vaulting ourselves out of the nest with weak, newly-feathered and pubescent wings, burning her from our very thoughts we fly as close as we want to the sun with no remembrances of her tales of the mythical Icarus.

Sometimes we fall, needing to be caught. Sometimes we are illuminated, needing to be grounded. Sometimes we are candled, impurities visible to the world, needing to be comforted.Knowing that she couldn’t and didn’t do anything right, we forged solidly ahead, burning our bridges, forging our paths, choosing our lives. Denying any connection to her at all, we stumble ahead, wondering how she could be as she is. How can she see with such blind eyes? What on earth drives her to make the choices she makes? We can't see her in our own mirror. We fight a righteous battle, reading our own stories in the stories of others, denying the connection, pretending that the link isn’t there—the emperors new link if you will.

Until the day comes. And it does come, for us all. In a reaper-like stealth, she creeps up on you without ever moving a muscle. She is suddenly there where she really has been all along. Mother. Someone says, “Gee you sound so much like your mother.” or “You look just like your mother.” or “Oops—I thought you were your mother!” and there is a tremendous rush, a silent vortex streaming past you flushing who you thought you were out of your head and dragging the version of you as an independent spirit out through every orifice in your face. The world as you have carefully crafted it has come whooshing past you and there you are, rushing to the mirror looking and listening for the evidence that has been there all along. Similar jaw line, copycat cellulite, a crows foot radiating from the corner of your eye at the exact angle of hers. And there you both are. So on a reconnaissance mission you go. Meeting, ostensibly for lunch, you dine, surreptitiously looking for the evidence. Aghast at the waiter's suggestion that the two of you are actually sisters, you run to the restroom.

Trembling at the thought, you peer for the sixtieth time at a face at once familiar and yet now, completely alien to you. You do see her there. You hear her in the lilt of your voice. As she is showing you the pictures from your sister's wedding, you see in colorized proof the same upturn of your nose, and then you see it again in her mother's face. Your nose. A piece of your equipment right there on someone else’s face. Is it really your nose at all? What is really yours after all? Have you only borrowed everything from the women before you? Reeling with astonishment, you begin to source out the clues to who you are.

Looking back, Polaroids spread all over the kitchen table, you find a version of you is living there in every one of them. And in each of them is the connection to the other. All linked by something or another, it begins to become remarkable really—all that fierce independence and denial of who she is suddenly thwarted by an undeniable genetic link to each other. Unimpeachable sources, these photographs witness the journeying of mother to daughter, to mother to daughter, to daughter to mother. Daguerreotypes, tintype, sepia-toned truths of our mothers ourselves silently bringing you into the fold, and there is comfort there, familiarity in those lined faces. Even when they were unlined and as rebellious as you were. There you are, linked as always to your mother, as she is linked to her mother as the links continue on, falling backwards and forwards into a circle of life. Even in mothers and daughters who never meet, the link is there. We can choose not to become mothers, we can re-parent and not duplicate some unpleasant personality traits, but we have to embrace her entirely before that personal selection process can begin. We need to see how fully within us she is.

She is impossible to deny girls—we are all our mothers our selves. There is comfort in that. Frightening as it is to confront it in living flesh. We are the heritage of our sisters, we have a responsibility to our daughters and ourselves. Our Mothers may not be the mothers we would have dreamt they’d be, but we are linked. For the millennia. She is there in everything we do, like it or not. Forgive her for that. Forgive yourself. Move ahead, blossom into your own best version of the women in your family. Live, love, thrive. Because as the sun rises to meet the moon, the cycle of life includes you and your mother. In loving her, you honor your self.

© Robilee McIntyre

Robilee McIntyre is an artist, creator extraordinaire, and all around Renaissance woman. She lives the intentionally happiest of lives in Reems Creek with 86 nipples, the love of her life and pro-chick inspirationallygraffittied 1951 ford pick up truck called Edgurr.

Western North Carolina Woman Magazine
is a publication of INFINITE CIRCLES, INC.

PO BOX 1332 • MARS HILL NC 28754 • 828-689-2988

Celebrating the Spirit of Place in Western North Carolina