In all I hope to be for my baby, what I want most is to be a role model. Someone who can give a dream a good strong push, just as it took to bring them into the world. Someone who can stand as proof that anything is possible, and work with them towards their every wish. Trouble is, I’m still just getting there with my own.
What am I to this little one if I can’t believe in myself, or push myself to work for what I want? I can’t be a role model if I’m still getting my arse in gear. If I don’t make changes now, wanting that honoured position will be akin to teaching the kid to get dressed while I’m stood skip-buttoned in my blouse, pants around my ankles. Do as I say, not as I do, sweet pea, and you’ll be well away.
The first big push must start with me, and I’ve been keeping up with a series that gives me something to aspire to, shows me the kind of mother I want to be. Made in Abyss, in which all of Orth’s great discoveries are to be found in the gaping chasm, yawning open and endless to the world’s core, is an anime fairytale of heading into the uncharted world with innocent eyes, going on a quest for home by making your way out there alone. It’s the story of an orphanage whose children are trained to delve into the Abyss and brave the gut-churning vertigo of the ascent, to bring home whatever treasures they find. It’s also the story of Riko, a girl who wants to be just like her mother, a formidable explorer of the Abyss, shrouded in fierce mythology.
This woman, this heroine, Lyza the Annihilator, made her name and her fortune as she made defiant sacrifices for her daughter’s survival. Riko was born in the cursed Abyss on the long descent for a priceless artefact, the fabled claim to her mother’s fame staked through heavy pregnancy, labour and carrying a newborn through the unforgiving dark, the breath-sapping dank of their underworld. When the colossal discovery was impossible to carry with baby on board, she left it behind. She risked death, and defamation in her failure to bring the goods, to get her daughter back to the surface, safe and well.
At the same time, she was deeply flawed. A drunken, dishonest, self-absorbed mess. On the day Lyza’s last dive comes to an end, the leader of Riko’s team lets the child know this truth. But what sets her apart is the acts of selflessness that had profited and changed her world many times over, even before Riko was born.
Lyza knew she was pregnant when she went down to the taxing depths of the fourth layer with a survey team to retrieve that relic of legend, the Unheard Bell, told to stop time. Even in her courageous self-indulgence, she knew that resting on her laurels wouldn’t be an option as a mother. Lyza abandoned her honour and the corpses of her comrades, giving up guaranteed comfort for life, in order to save her daughter. So she could be with her child. So she could teach her, however briefly, to be better than her.
It was at this point in Riko’s coming to know the true-life legend, in the same breath as the audience, that I cracked. I knew the feeling, for both the mother and the child. I knew the sacrifice I could only be capable of now, and the world bending awe of the girl who wanted to be just like her hero. It gave words to what I want. To be that hero to my fearless, funny, fretful little one, whoever they may be. I want to show them that they can be just the same by my own example. It sucks that I’m not there yet. But for now, I’ve got role models to match.