Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Beneath the Veins

Image: Flickr CC

When I was a little girl, I would hold my mother's arm and just stare at it. I was always fascinated with her fair skin and how it showed all the blue-greenish veins underneath. To me they looked pretty. They felt familiar, something I always just associated with Mom. There was even a point when I would refer to my Mom's scent as 'the vein smell'. I honestly thought it was those veins that gave her that signature, comforting smell. 

Now, in my 40's, I look at the back side of my own arms and see similar veins. I now understand what veins are, what they hold and how they run throughout our bodies sustaining us, 'feeding' the heart. I also now understand that even though I saw my mother's veins a lot, I never fully knew the secrets they held. 

As I look at my veins showing, I know that no one else knows what courses through them, especially not my son. He sees me and sees only his mother. He doesn't know what those veins have been through, or the intensity of the blood flowing through. He doesn't see the hidden anger or hurts, regrets, passion; nor for what or for whom those veins have throbbed in the past and why. 

They don't need to know. My son doesn't need to know. The truth is, I think for most of us, there is a resistance to confronting the full humanity of our parents especially our mother's. We see them in a certain light and it is dictated upon by necessity more than reality. The mother-child relationship is one of the most intimate relationships we would ever experience, and yet it doesn't follow that it's necessarily the most transparent. We often see our mothers as mothers, and then as a partner to our fathers. But not many of us are brave enough to peel away the surface layers to see more into who they are, where they've been, who they've loved, hated, disappointed; who have broken them, who they continue to bleed for, what they continue to hope for and what they silently cry for in their sleep. It gives us comfort to simply see our mothers as strong, with veins steady and fortified by contentment and a sense of wholeness. 

I stare at my own veins and marvel at them. I know what lies beneath. I know the depth of what they feel and what every drop of deep red carries with it. I know the essence of the stain they will make if you cut them open. But no other soul fully knows, especially not my child. And perhaps he doesn't need to. Perhaps it's enough for now that he is also fascinated with them and finds them comforting. It's enough he sees the blue-greenish tint and not the deep stained mysteries that flow within. Those are meant to be kept between my veins and my heart. 


  1. What a great post, and so eloquent. I'm in the middle of my elderly parents and my adult children with children, so these questions are particularly weighing on me right now.

  2. actually, I remember very well the veins of my mother when she put her hand on mine, it goes back to long years, in your post it seems like it was only yesterday. Thank you

  3. I don't think anyone can truly know another. And maybe it's best that way. To preserve some mystery.


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