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In my native Polish, the word for “mother” is matka, which coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally) has meanings in other languages.
As I found out, in Hindi, the same word describes an earthen pot used to hold water and dairy products. Consider the symbolism: A matka refreshes, nurtures and comforts. She is life-giving, indispensable. Mothers are often referred to as vessels, first used to carry a child inside of them, then to nourish that child from their own bodies.
Throughout my three pregnancies, I never once felt like that. A vessel is specially made for carrying water, but I was not made for motherhood. I experienced all pregnancies as a time of annoyance, suffering and inconvenience. Instead of a vessel patiently waiting to be filled, I was a waiting room at the doctor’s office: Next, next, next. It was with jealousy that I looked at mothers who seemed to go through pregnancy as if it were their default state. Even after pregnancy they would extend their vessel-like role by holding their babies in carriers or slings.
I, on the other hand, felt totally devoid of any maternal intuition. When my babies cried, my first instinct was not to get up and comfort them, but to run away. I didn’t. I got up and nursed and sang and soothed even if my whole body was reeling with sleep deprivation and exhaustion. When I was not doing that, I was wondering what was wrong with me. Why did I feel resentful instead of happy?
When my first baby was born nine years ago, the country of motherhood I found myself in was not in any way as expected. Instead of the beautiful place I envisioned, I found myself on a wild, deserted island. I had prepared, packed all the necessary items, but once I landed, I lost everything and was left with only a pocketknife to fend for myself. I had no point of reference, didn’t speak the language, had no knowledge of the customs. It was a feeling of disorientation I’d never felt so acutely before.
Because I always turn to books in times of need, I immersed myself into the confusing world of parenting advice. I thought that I could stitch together my own philosophy of parenting, like a quilt made from different scraps of fabrics. But the books I read offered no solace, only patronizing and contradictory advice.
I gave birth naturally but felt that wasn’t enough because I was supposed to have a home birth. I breast-fed each of my children for a year. That seemed like a good length of time for us, but I know that to some people, it wasn’t enough. For others, that was too long. My children slept in a crib in our room until they were 2 or 3 because it worked for us. For the attachment-parenting types, I was a terrible mother because why weren’t my children in my bed? According to the Ferber faction, I was a terrible mother because I didn’t sleep-train them.
I felt stifled by these rigid ideas of what it meant to be a mother. The books’ goal was to turn me into a better, more useful vessel to carry my children’s needs and desires. I refused to be a vessel. I wanted to be a person.
The Japanese have Kitsungi, a method of repairing broken pottery with gold, making it even more valuable after it has been broken. Some of the parenting books I read told me that I should similarly welcome the shattering of myself, and that I was made better because I was now a mother. I disagreed. I liked myself just as I was before I had children. While other mothers were taking pride in their new broken and repaired forms, I was on my hands and knees, still looking for pieces of myself.
Motherhood, I realized, was just another place I didn’t fit in.
By the time my first child was born, I’d lived in three different countries. Born in Poland, raised in Germany, I later followed my German husband to Canada, and then back to Germany, where our first daughter was born. When she was only 6 weeks old, we moved to the Netherlands, where my husband was working at the time. After a few years, our two other children were born here.
With time, I was able to toss away all parenting books and blogs, and the advice they shot at me, and start making my own path. Far away from my family, I was a mother without guidance. There were no rules for what I was doing, and I was left fully to my own devices. I thought that this lack of norms would make things more difficult for me. But in the end, it was freeing. We — my husband and I — had no one to answer to but ourselves. Without a system of norms and customs to burden us, we could make our own decisions.
My children are now older, mercifully many years away from babyhood. My elder daughter will soon enter the tween years. My son has just started school. All of them move seamlessly among three cultures. Dutch pancakes, Polish pierogi and German liverwurst will elicit the same enthusiastic response from them. They speak three languages and are learning a fourth, English, at school. I can’t be certain, but it’s reassuring to believe that despite all the mistakes that I’ve made in the past and inevitably will make in the future, the kids are all right.
A while back, a friend shared a meme in Finnish. I was about to ignore it when one surprisingly familiar word caught my attention.
“What does matka mean in Finnish?” I asked.
The friend wrote back, “It means journey.”
Olga Mecking is a writer, journalist and translator living in the Netherlands.B:
【嗡】~ 【就】【在】【李】【岚】【心】【里】【作】【斗】【争】【之】【时】，【一】【道】【白】【光】【闪】【过】，【当】【她】【再】【次】【看】【向】【那】【空】【地】【上】【的】【一】【人】【一】【兔】【之】【时】，【人】【和】【兔】【已】【经】【不】【见】【了】【身】【影】。 【拥】【有】【多】【年】【纠】【察】【院】【专】【业】【素】【养】【的】【她】【马】【上】【左】【顾】【右】【盼】，【见】【着】【没】【人】【之】【后】【这】【才】【舒】【了】【一】【口】【气】。 【她】【刚】【刚】【以】【为】【自】【己】【被】【发】【现】【了】，【那】【一】【人】【一】【兔】【不】【是】【消】【失】【了】，【而】【是】【想】【要】【谋】【杀】【自】【己】【这】【个】【跟】【踪】【他】【们】【的】【人】。 【显】【然】，【她】【想】
【道】【德】【沦】【丧】。 【慧】【心】【已】【然】【成】【为】【魔】。 【毫】【无】【人】【性】，【但】【却】【还】【未】【曾】【对】【妇】【孺】【下】【手】。 【也】【许】【是】【心】【中】【最】【后】【的】【一】【块】【净】【土】，【慧】【心】【只】【是】【针】【对】【佛】【寺】。 【当】【然】，【因】【为】【慧】【心】【的】【出】【现】。 【大】【坤】【国】【陷】【入】【前】【所】【未】【有】【的】..【恐】【惧】。 【一】【路】【风】【霜】【而】【行】，【毁】【城】【灭】【寺】，【惨】【案】【不】【断】，【只】【为】【了】【报】【复】。 【报】【复】【这】【个】【可】【悲】【的】【世】【界】。 【说】【什】【么】【都】【晚】【了】。
【回】【京】【城】【的】【路】【程】【就】【快】【多】【了】，【殷】【家】【不】【缺】【上】【好】【的】【马】【车】。 【一】【进】【门】，【见】【到】【殷】【三】【曲】【和】【殷】【五】【都】【坐】【着】【等】【着】【她】，【两】【边】【还】【坐】【着】【那】【些】【逢】【年】【过】【节】【才】【见】【的】【老】【骨】【头】【前】【辈】【们】，【她】【就】【感】【觉】【头】【大】。【更】【可】【怕】【的】【是】，【连】【殷】【相】【也】【在】。 【那】【个】【家】【伙】【不】【是】【又】【回】【去】【山】【胡】【桃】【堂】【了】？【她】【都】【几】【年】【没】【有】【他】【的】【消】【息】【了】，【连】【他】【都】【逼】【出】【来】【了】。 “【殷】【良】。” 【她】【听】【见】【殷】【五】【沉】【着】【脸】，东方心经期“【老】【婆】，【我】【回】【来】【了】。”【王】【子】【程】【刚】【下】【班】【一】【进】【门】【就】【首】【先】【同】【坐】【在】【沙】【发】【上】【的】【郗】【颖】【报】【道】。 “【回】【来】【啦】。”【郗】【颖】【从】【笔】【记】【本】【电】【脑】【前】【抬】【起】【头】【冲】【王】【子】【程】【甜】【甜】【一】【笑】，【接】【着】【埋】【头】【看】【自】【己】【的】【电】【脑】。 “【又】【在】【追】【剧】？”【王】【子】【程】【凑】【过】【脸】【来】【揽】【住】【郗】【颖】【道】。 “【没】，【在】【码】【字】。”【郗】【颖】【边】【敲】【打】【键】【盘】【边】【无】【不】【惋】【惜】【的】【说】【道】，“【一】【起】【同】【过】【窗】【两】【部】【我】【都】【追】【完】【了】，【还】
【窗】【外】【寒】【风】【细】【雨】，【绵】【绵】【无】【停】。 【漆】【黑】【的】【石】【室】【中】，【小】【手】【冰】【凉】。 【季】【瑾】【晴】【俯】【着】【腰】【身】，【轻】【晃】【起】【他】【的】【肩】【膀】。【嘴】【里】【声】【声】【担】【忧】，“【南】【风】【靖】！”【可】【又】【不】【敢】【抬】【高】【音】【色】，【生】【怕】【这】【石】【室】【空】【旷】，【一】【传】【甚】【远】，【惹】【来】【歹】【人】【临】【近】。 【南】【风】【靖】【仍】【觉】【周】【身】【乏】【力】，【此】【间】【也】【只】【能】【挣】【扎】【着】【撩】【动】【几】【下】【眼】【皮】。【眸】【光】【浅】【扫】，【忽】【见】【她】【俯】【身】【旁】【侧】，【心】【中】【却】【是】【意】【外】，“【瑾】【晴】！
【虹】【之】【国】，【一】【个】【巨】【大】【的】【瀑】【布】【前】。 【自】【来】【也】【早】【已】【不】【知】【去】【向】，【鸣】【人】【自】【己】【一】【个】【人】【在】【瀑】【布】【下】【的】【水】【潭】【中】【刻】【苦】【修】【炼】。 【雏】【田】【通】【过】【白】【眼】，【可】【以】【看】【到】【鸣】【人】【正】【在】【做】【的】【只】【是】【最】【基】【础】【的】【修】【炼】，【而】【鸣】【人】【的】【实】【力】【比】【起】【离】【开】【木】【叶】【的】【时】【候】，【也】【只】【有】【很】【微】【小】【的】【一】【点】【进】【步】。 “【果】【然】【是】【笨】【蛋】【的】【修】【炼】【方】【法】！” 【雏】【田】【小】【声】【吐】【槽】【了】【一】【句】，【转】【头】【对】【身】【后】【的】【两】【个】【大】
【过】【了】【好】【一】【会】【儿】，【顾】【文】【才】【叹】【了】【一】【口】【气】，“【这】【个】【孩】【子】，【终】【究】【还】【是】【随】【了】【她】【的】【母】【亲】。” 【随】【着】【顾】【芷】【兰】【的】【入】【狱】，【楚】【瑾】【和】**【尘】【的】【生】【活】【逐】【渐】【归】【于】【平】【静】，【除】【了】【汪】【琴】【来】【闹】【过】【一】【次】【被】【顾】【斯】【骂】【走】【之】【后】【再】【无】【消】【息】。 【萧】【楚】【两】【家】【依】【然】【忙】【碌】，【其】【中】【最】【闲】【的】【也】【就】【只】【有】【楚】【瑾】【一】【个】【人】【了】，【她】【每】【天】【都】【是】【抱】【着】【不】【同】【的】【炖】【盅】【坐】【在】【沙】【发】【上】，【看】【着】【两】【家】【父】【母】【在】【讨】【论】【婚】