“The Tree is the heart of the Forest and the Mother is the heart of the Family,” they elaborated as the years went by and my marriage remained a barren one.
Despite my long years of adulthood, they spoke to me as though I were a child. They never say it outright, but their tones all imply the same thing. I, who have never carried a growing fetus within my womb, who have never pushed a mewling infant into this cold world, am somehow less.
Less of an adult. Less of a wife. Less of a person.
At home, sitting in front of the fire, I rail and rant and cry, and my husband wraps his solid arms around me, and assures me I am not less, but that I am actually enough.
He kisses away my tears and fury and we make love by firelight, our bodies coming together with no less of a thrill despite the familiarity of decades.
When he brings me to completion, I let my exultation resound, willing the Others, the Old Ones, the Grandmothers and Great-Grandmothers with their brooding eyes and clucking teeth, to hear it.
“Listen,” I think. “Hear this. I am full of Warmth and Joy and Love.
“The Tree is the Heart of the Forest, and the Mother is the heart of the Family.” I hear them chanting it in my head, and I banish their wavering voices and frowning mouths. I cast away their sorrowful faces etched with ancient worry lines.
They’re right, though.
The Tree is the heart of the Forest.
But its roots and branches dwell within me.
I will never be the Mother.
I am the Tree.