This is what I have been putting off. Sitting behind a computer (!) typing what I’m thinking and feeling. Not bad…just out there for the world to see (really…who’s watching?). Innocuous enough; deceptively so. This is what I kept telling my dear Anne Marie to remind me to do?? Why have I been putting this off for 15 months? Does that even matter, now, now that fingernails are clattering on the keyboard?
14 December 2011, 8.48am Canberra, Australia time – I become a mum…officially (to me) and completely, breathed and birthed our beautiful son, surrounded by the love of my partner and midwife. Incredible, amazing.
And all the while, hearing my yogini’s voice in my head, telling me to breathe, SELF: slow, even, long, and full; ‘Breathe in, know that I am breathing in. Breathe out, know that I am breathing out’. As I kneeled and rocked, breathed, wailed…birthed, really…in the warm waters of the triangular shaped bath, I felt amazingly empowered, powerful beyond belief. I knew I could do ‘this’. With my partner to my left and my midwife to my right and with Rosie with me in spirit and voice, I labelled the pain, pain, breathed through and put it away. I labelled the pain, pain and breathed through making primeval wails and noises that I did not think were possible for me. The effects of my labor sounds on my throat and voice lasted for several weeks!
While I’d like to spill out my entire birth story here (because I really need to get it down!), I feel I must focus instead on the journey of becoming a mum. Like nearly every other journey in my life, I do believe that I’ll never get to the end, hence the ‘becoming’. I’m always learning, or trying to — even if I don’t always change in that moment. It does get filed away.
But this journey. This journey has been one hell of a ride. I think one of the reasons I have so procrastinated about this is because fear and anger and denial. Here is a quote that perfectly sums it up — an old student of mine posted this and I am so glad (thank you, Donnique!):
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson
Now if you know me, you know I’m not into the whole God thing, but I think the point is spot on. What I learned on 14 December was that I am “powerful beyond measure”, and that scared the shit out of me. Not that parenthood hasn’t been scary, but that moment (the moment after Crowning), that defining moment (“Welcome to Motherhood, fellow Earth Goddess!”) I knew that I could do just about anything in the world that I wanted to do. There was no fear in that moment (no, the fear came weeks later), just power, power to connect with the earth, to some spiritual primordial place. To birth another human, to lifting up the baby and bringing him to my belly, my chest — what a beaming, radiant moment!
Today, our son is 1 year, 2 months, 18 days old. It has taken me that long to begin to conquer that fear and start to shine again. Being a mum has been the hardest thing I have ever done — it has challenged every fibre of my being — even things I ‘thought’ I had worked out. I knew I’d never have time for myself, I knew that I would be tired nearly all the time, I knew that it would take me a year to get my body and mind back where I wanted them to be. Yeah….well, I occasionally have a few minutes for myself here and there, I am nearly tired all the time (our son has not won any “Loves To Sleep” awards), and the body weighs what it did when I got pregnant, but it is not “back” and my mind…well, indeed, that is part of the problem and the solution. I am working on it…mindfully, even though at times I try to turn my mind off. It is overwhelming work at times, this being a mum, partner, professor (assistant, that is).
But I have finally labelled the fear and am mindfully trying to conquer it (again). I have been feeling inadequate, frustrated, angry (very angry) — at myself, at my partner, our son, my ‘family’, my job. I may not always deal with it in ways that are positive in the long term, but I am trying. The past eight months (especially) have been fruitful for my slow evolution, one that I can begin to see the light again. The light is different, changed, but it is there. I am the same, different, changed. I am here, I am me, just different, not quite the same as I was before bub, and that’s okay. The catalyst for much of this self reflection, process of forgiving and renewal was the tragedy of a little boy’s death. A little boy, Patrick, who was born 10 days before David. I never met Patrick, but I found his mother’s blog last year and was so encouraged by her humor and pluck. We are about the same age, she had three other children, she seemed to be a bit of a rebel (we both had drug free water births with midwives; love wearing our babies, etc), she seemed hilarious, open, liberated from the status quo bullshit…let’s call her real. And she has a great parenting philosophy — laid back, loving. Four days after Patrick’s 14 month birthday, he went to sleep and never woke up (Fuck SUDC!).
I have shed more tears than I thought possible for a complete stranger and her family. I still cry for Patrick and his mom, dad and four siblings. But his mom, Julie, has been amazingly forthcoming about her grief process. It has been her openness and willingness to be vulnerable that has spurred me on to writing my own blog. If she can put her heart out there with this unimaginable loss, surely I can gleam some courage from her and begin to write myself. She wrote something in a blog last week…she reminded all of us that we are living the dream (with our bubs) and to make it a good one. I will, Julie and Patrick. His death has made me a gentler parent, more patient, loving. We aren’t guaranteed anything, so I intend to make every moment count.
I chose love. I have realised that much of my anger was directed at myself and I am trying to love myself more everyday. It is a struggle. Many days I feel as if I’ve failed my son, my partner, myself. It feels like it is never enough. I am trying to make peace with the fact that it never will be enough…I just need to enjoy what I have. These are all things I ‘know’ (in my head), but I am trying to ‘know’ them in my heart. I know I need to show myself love more. I need to rest, exercise, play, love.
So the life of a working mum is truly one in which there is little time for self reflection. It is my intent to use this blog to chronicle my journey, our journey, in all (or nearly all) of its’ splendor.
Welcome to the life of a chef, a prof and a bub!