As mothers, we are connected to our children by a legacy of belly buttons. I look at my sons’ belly buttons and see how we are forever connected to each other. My belly button connects me to my mother and she to her mother and so on, deep into a past of belly buttons, of women we have never met, but to whom we are connected from one generation of belly buttons to the next.
We are tethered by this silly indention in our abdomens that we trivialize, humorize and generally take for granted. It collects dust as we go about our lives, a vestige of what was once our life line.
Then you have a child and the belly button becomes a stressful reminder of how much you can screw up. The atrophying recession of a baby’s umbilicus causing anxiety that leaves us certain we are going to detach something from their insides if we are even the slightest bit clumsy with the thing while cleaning it. It just looks raw and exposed and we are delegated the responsibility of seeing that it severs completely and sterily.
When it finally falls off, we keep it to press, dried and shriveled in a baby book. But why? Because it once connected us to each other. Now it’s a metaphorical connection as our child drifts farther and farther from us, becoming less and less dependent from the time the connection is severed.
A legacy of belly buttons reminds us of our once symbiotic relationship, that might be considered parasitic if what we forfeited from sacrificing our bodies completely for them weren’t reciprocated with a love that endures into perpetuity as innies and outies.