Primordial Soup, DNA, and Beauty

I grew, inside my mother’s body, from a single cell.  In that time, I created all the eggs I’d ever have—my contribution to future children.  We existed like that, three generations, nested together like Russian matryoshka dolls.

Chipmunk, just born.

Chipmunk, just born.

Before I left my mother, I left a little bit of myself in her body.  My fetal DNA still lives in her and most likely will until the day she dies.  Before my children left me, they left their DNA in my body, no matter how briefly they were with me.  Children to mother, mother to child, cells pass.  My children may even share some of their DNA with each other.

My maternal grandmother. This was the last picture I have with her. I was pregnant with Mouse here.

We go on, overlapping, coexisting, decade after decade in this way.  Maternal lineage.  Life from the primordial soup has spun an intricate web.  Life breaks, rejoins, splits, and twists, year after year, generation after generation.



I spent some time tonight looking at old pictures of the Taters.  I still had (and have) a mountain of things to do but couldn’t help myself after the first peek.  I know that they’ll look back on these pictures as adults and ask me… What was it like back then? 

Chipmunk, first birthday.

Chipmunk, first birthday.

It is easy for me to get caught up my daily struggles.  The never ending cacophony, the endless needs, the repetition… Having children has been a constant tug-of-war between surrender and restraint, them and myself.  Each moment flashes bright and hot, yet so ordinary on the whole.

Mouse, two years old.

Mouse, two years old.

And yet, in this tug-of-war, I realize, we aren’t actually separate beings.  We never have been separate. We all exist together, permanently connected through our genetic code.  Kindred.

Silly comrades.

Silly comrades.

So too, is the human family.  We all share the same coding.  The same coding that has been splitting, merging, twisting, rejoining for thousands of years.  Whether by God’s hand, nature, random chance… However one chooses to see it, for me the beauty remains unchanged.  Life is art, in the most fundamental way.  Who am I to question it?  Who am I to know what is right, correct, normal, or ideal?

LP, one week old.

When I think of things this way, 47 or 46 chromosomes seems so inconsequential, I almost laugh.  Joyful laughter.  There’s reality in the day to day, and I don’t know what the future holds, but I still feel like I’ve been let in on a fundamental Truth.  We are all exactly as we should be, down to every single cell.

LP, six weeks.

LP, six weeks.

I might go watch my babies sleep for a bit now.  I’ll resist snuggling them, because I won’t want to wake them, so I’ll just watch.  Before I know it, they’ll be breaking away from me.  It’ll be another exercise in surrender and restraint, as I wait for our lives to twist and rejoin, twist and rejoin, until the end.

Always together.

Always together.

I hope my children look back and see what I see now.  Life is exactly as it should be.

Father and Son

34 Comments on “Primordial Soup, DNA, and Beauty”

  1. momshieb says:

    You are such a gifted writer!
    Thank you for this beautiful, touching, perfect post. You made this empty nest Mom cry.

    • jisun says:

      Aw, thank you for your kind words. I dunno if this sounds odd, but I think often about being where you are. Right now it seems so far, but I also know it is going to happen in a blink so I find myself thinking about it a lot, it is going to be hard when my babies leave me!

      • momshieb says:

        Oh, my dear, I hope you don’t follow in my pitiful footsteps!! I cried the first time my first child had on real shoes (she was 6 months old….) thinking, “Now she can walk away from me!” LOL!!
        Truly, I think that being aware of the fleeting nature of childhood helps us to be better, more patient moms. Hug those babies for me, will you?

        • jisun says:

          Ha, I think I already have! You’re right though, it does help keep perspective during the daily parenting. I’ll hug mine and you can go stalk yours on Facebook. ;)

  2. Diane says:

    Man I want to hug those taters so bad! It’s hard to resist waking them to snuggle huh?! Beautifully written my friend!

  3. Holly F. says:


  4. Marie Fox says:

    So lovely and so true. xo

  5. Jenny says:

    Absolutely beautiful.

  6. That was a beautiful song you just sang….every note…just beautiful.

  7. Nana says:

    Absolutely beautiful thoughts exquisitely expressed.

  8. AK says:

    What an exquisite description of mother love and who we (humans) all are.

  9. Chris Parra says:

    Just so lovely – Thank you! Mom to 3, middle son, Tomas DS, 7

  10. Lisa says:

    This is so beautiful and moving. I’m in tears. Profound, my friend.

  11. modernmessy says:

    This is so beautiful, Jisun. You are a true poet. I love all of the imagery you use here, the twisting and turning, joining and separating. It actually is reassuring to think about them growing up and leaving me (gulp) if I think about it this way. I never knew about the fetal DNA remaining in the mother until I read your work. Keep it coming!

    • jisun says:

      Isn’t it fascinating? I had heard about it a while back but had never read that the exchange could happen between siblings as well. We are truly connected.

  12. Cole says:

    I’ve had this on my mind too after Laura Grace Weldon had posted on this topic. I love the knowledge that my cells exist in others and others cells exist in me, including the babies that I never actually got to hold. I also love that my children share each other’s cells- sigh….

    • jisun says:

      I have an endless appetite for this kind of stuff, I just find it so interesting. We are lulled into this false belief that we understand the human body, but there’s so much mystery still. Thank you for the link!

  13. Stephanie says:

    Damn, girl! This was freakin’ awesome. Thank you.

  14. So that’s Latke!

    Seriously, I love all the photos of your taters. In my last essay (which I was finishing when you posted this), I went searching for a picture taken 16 years ago when my oldest two sons were 3 and 6 months. Back then it was all film, not digital, and I had to look through four photo boxes before finding the pictures I was after. Which means I spent nearly an hour wandering through what *suddenly* became the past, the time when my first babies were still babies.

    And it occurred to me, in hindsight, that I was one of them. Even though I was 28 when my first child was born, we were all youngsters on the adventures of their childhoods.

    Now, my kids are old enough to reflect back to me their thoughts and memories of the past. They don’t ask me what is was like, they tell me, sometimes remembering the past in far clearer detail than I do. But I also hear from them a collective memory of feeling–we were together and it was good. And perhaps that’s why we are still together today and it is still very, very good. As I’m sure will be the case with your loving family.

    • jisun says:

      This is so true, I remember this as well! I used to remember so much that my parents had forgotten. And it was an adventure, just like you say. I have so many memories of my parents being carefree and silly with me, and that feeling you describe of just being together. :)

  15. Colleen says:

    I feel like many of your entries are written hugs. I frequently close the page feeling warm and uplifted. Thank you.

Share your thoughts! I try to respond to every comment. Unless you are offensive. Then I either delete or mock you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s