I adore this song. The girls and I have been listening to the Mamma Mia 2 soundtrack on high rotation, not for the first time. We all love ABBA (how can you not?!), we love Mamma Mia 1 and 2 (although they’re not allowed to watch it yet, they’ve seen some of the clips- “Lay all your Love on Me” is my personal fave from number 1 and “Why did it have to be me?” is a close second). “My Love, My Life”, however, has quite a different tone to the usual Benny/Bjorn bop, particularly as performed by Meryl Streep/Lily James and their on screen daughter played by Amanda Seyfried in Mamma Mia 2. It is essentially a love song between a mother and her daughter as she too, becomes a mother, while finding some peace with the loss of her own mother. It’s complicated.
When I saw this for the first time I cried and cried, thinking of my own mother, and feeling the incredible depth of love one feels for one’s own children. Every time I hear this song I well up. I can’t help but think of my darling daughters. When I hear “I held you close to me, felt your heart beat and I thought I am free”, of course I remember their births; the smells, the sounds, the exquisite feeling of their skin touching mine for the first time. I remember the joy of hearing their hearts beating. I remember the scans like open windows into the womb, the wonder of it all. I miss those early days, but I try not to miss the magic happening right in front of me as they blossom into young women before my eyes.
When my father sees the way I look at my girls, he says to me, “Now you understand. The way you love them is the way we love you.” It’s true, I don’t think I fully appreciated this until becoming a parent myself. I adored, still do adore, my own parents. I love them so much. But if I had the impossible choice of saving my children or my parents, I’d have to save my children (and still be traumatised for life, naturally). FYI mum and dad, I’d expect the same treatment from you! You can’t not put your kids first. However, the following lyric speaks to me very loudly, probably because I need frequent gentle reminders:
“I know I don’t possess you.”
This I feel is what’s missing from so many relationships, not just familial but intimate partnerships and friendships too. Loving with an open hand, trusting that you don’t need to control and dominate the other, demand they prove their love over and over or trip over yourself trying desperately to hang on to them at all costs. When love is true and worth celebrating it cannot be lost through separation or distance, of any kind. I want my girls to know that while I do love them more than my own life, and that while they are a part of me, borne of and through me, they do not belong to me- they belong to themselves alone. It is so important for us all to remember that.
Even so, I have to agree with Meryl that they are “still my love and my life“. They are still “my one and only.” …
…times two ❤
I do have to wonder if my heart could be any more full.