It is 11:30pm. I am doing dishes. I’m past the struggle of it, surrendered to the delicious slop and spray of warm water and suds. And then, just like that, there is a quickening. I feel her. She comes like this, in visitations the physics of which are mostly just a shift in air pressure, a meta knowing. An atmosphere of recognition. My mother, nearly eight years gone, come to say hello. To assuage my heart, even if for a moment.
I turn off the faucet. I set down the glass. I let the water stream off my fingertips. I let her presence wash through me. I let myself receive, in that moment, all the mothering I so often long for. The longing that syncopates my days, even though I am—supposedly—an adult. Even though I wonder when, and how, I became this thing called adult.
And when the quickening, passes, I wonder if it’s the child or the adult missing her. I wonder if I would remember her differently had I known her as I am now. When I wish I could pick up the phone and call her, I realize I don’t have the faintest idea how our conversations would go if she were here. In the wake of all the grief, I know, for certain, I am an adult. But I still long to be a child, to be mothered, often. Don’t you?
I’ve written a lot here about missing my mom, about her absence, but less about her presence, who she was when she was more than an atmospheric quickening. The way she laughed, the way she’d cup and lift her breasts when she looked in the mirror, the frustration she felt at the heft of her nose, the way she slathered tahini on sprouted bagels and topped them with Spike and alfalfa sprouts. The way she made miso soup when I was sick. The way she always smelled like lavender. The way she talked to plants. The way she was kindred with the natural world almost more than the human one. The way she wrote. The way she taught me to be an adult.
My mother, too, was a writer. She kept a book of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poems by her bed. The year before I was born, she published her first book—Living With the Flowers—which had a second printing when I was seven. Its scope is encyclopedic, her approach to incorporating flowers in every aspect of life completely exhaustive. I cannot fathom the depth of her knowledge.
She studied herbology and aromatherapy for decades, working with Elson Haas and Rosemary Gladstar. She knew how to heal you from heartbreak as deftly as she did from the flu. When I was 11, Kenny Loggins came over for a homeopathic treatment. And when I went away to college, she sent me with a healing kit of remedies, spanning homeopathic, Eastern, aromatherapeutic, and Bach Flower Remedy modalities. I still own it, its tattered bamboo weave completely worn through so that I have to hold it together at top and bottom whenever I pick it up.
There’s really no other way to put it: My mother was the best kind of witch. This is how she taught me to be an adult.
Now, washing dishes, I summon her. I summon her walking down the street. I summon her in my deepest depths of heartache and in the elation of small daily triumphs. And when the air changes and I feel her, I wonder if it is really her or just some part of me that is mother, that is…adult. The same part of me that will, one day, mother my own child.
But first, before babies (and husbands!): This glorious oat milk bath, infused with dried lavender and rose petals. Ready in less than five minutes, a treat for you, for the mother figure in your world, for the good witch in your heart. All you have to do is blend and add to bath water for a luxurious, skin-softening, glow-inducing DIY spa moment. I cannot exaggerate how astoundingly divine this smells, as blending the buds releases all the essential oils.
I’ll leave you with the last stanza of a poem my mother wrote just before she died:
and the energy
that fills the
of all form
LAVENDER ROSE OAT MILK BATH.
makes enough for 2-3 baths
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup dried lavender buds
- ½ cup dried rose petals
Combine all ingredients in high speed blender and blend on high until they become a fine flour. Transfer to jars. Use ¾ - 1 cup per bath, adding to tub with running water and swirling to integrate. Bathe as you like, rinse thoroughly, towel dry, and moisturize normally.