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My Women’s Group

On Mother’s Day, as I write this post, I’m full of happy memories from the reunion that I shared with my women’s group last week.

Let me tell you a little about us.

Everyone of our group is a mother and some are grandmothers. Everyone loves their progeny fiercely and has been through all the ups and downs that come with being a mother.

We get together once a year and come from all over the place–Broome, Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Mitchells Island and Adelaide. We value this time together that we carve out of our busy lives. And, we’ve been meeting for 15 years, mainly in South Australia–Kangaroo Island, the Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide and, this year, the Clare Valley .

The ‘baby’ of our group is 50 and the beautiful matriarch of our group is 81 years old. Like burnished silver, I believe we have become more beautiful over the years. It’s hard to imagine how it’s happened, but ageing has seemed to make us more opinionated and, at the same time, more loving.

I love how we are there for each other through life’s inevitable transitions. One of our group passed away suddenly several years ago, leaving just eight of us. Her death has left an unfillable space in our group, and we still cherish her memory. The husband of one of our women died a while back and also, recently, her daughter-in-law. Aged parents have passed away and grandkids born. There have been major surgeries, chronic illnesses, businesses dissolving and starting up, moves across the country and back.

How We Express Love 

This year, someone came up with a new ‘exercise’. Sitting together, we took time to give our attention to one person in the group. As she listened, each of us individually had a chance to appreciate her. We used the tender words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘Sonnet 43’:  How do I love thee. Let me count the ways. We showered each woman in turn with words that expressed the many ways she has touched us and others.

At the end of this acknowledgement exercise, I felt so proud of all of us. Each one of us strong, slightly weathered and all the more attractive because of it.

If you haven’t read this sonnet in a while, here it is. The words seem to be a perfect expression of the unconditional love a mother has for her child.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.