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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Confetti Heart

“Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh – Gift From The Sea

I read these words and recognise within them my own self, as it is perpetually dribbled away into a million different needs and deeds. I feel sharply the sliver of resentment belonging to my wild gypsy self, who longs to give herself fully to the dance, to the work of art, to the concerto, to life. And is instead taught to be happy with creating only small wonders who may go on to become great masters in time. Is this all a mother is? A spinner of the threads of a future miracle? If so, that’s not a bad thing to be. And yet, surely beyond the sculpting and tender nurturance of these warm and splendid mini-selves, there must be something that belongs only to us? Something deeper and more profound than spilling ourselves away, droplet by droplet into others?

As I ponder my hubble’s suggestion to take a sabbatical, to retreat in the face of current difficulties in order to find my equilibrium again, I wonder if I know what peace is. Would I know peace if it came up and greeted me with flowers? Hell would I know it if it bit me on the ass? Probably not. I know what peace is not. It is not waking up with a tight jaw and aching eyes after a night of restless sleep. It is not this knot in my stomach or the nausea that comes from living with my shoulders as ear- muffs. It is not hearing myself laugh and being shocked at how alien it sounds. No. That is not peace. Peace slips in under the coat of solitude, holding quiet by the hand.

The Attraction of Distraction
Many of us spend a good deal of our time disappearing into different distractions so as not to find ourselves alone in a room with silence. Or worse - ourselves. There is tv, movies, books and music and all of these are noble and enjoyable distractions. We can pick up the phone, get online, text or message each other in an instant. If we don’t have someone actually with us, we have something in our ears or our hands or our mouths. We are contactable at every moment and we are available to each other instantly. And therein lies the problem. There are so many opportunities to be busy, to be distracted, to be involved but there are few opportunities to be quiet. Few opportunities for stillness. In fact, given half an hour of quiet we will fill it with a hundred necessary and important things and never even notice the glass of ourselves slowly emptying until it reaches the bottom and we are still required to give.

I love a good distraction as much as the next girl. I can easily lose myself in books or movies or even music. And yet, despite the almost constant thread of resentment at the level of sacrifice required of me as a mother, I spend my time looking at yet more ways that I can give to this little being. It’s as if I am searching for any hole in my psyche through which the ‘perfect mother’ can slip out. Surely, if I can bake the bread, or offer the milk or cookies, or make the doll, then I am one step closer to digging out this recalcitrant mother within. If only I can become the nurturer, the creative playmate, the laughing, relaxed mamma I know I can be, this depleted, worn out soul will be renewed. And so I continue to seek avenues of nourishment for this little soul I love so much. Is it martyrdom? It certainly can be. But it can also be simply what mothering requires. A slow disintegration of the self in order to have room to birth and hold and shelter these precious little beings. No wonder many new mothers are shell shocked in those first few months. Or, if you are me, few years.

I realise that I am not a natural nurturer. I have resisted domestication like a feral cat. I have chaffed at the bit of commitment until my mouth is bloody. Yet all the answers I seek, all the avenues I am currently exploring to find wellness again, are not for myself primarily. They are for her. For my beautiful, golden-haired Beanie girl. So that I may give freely and not feel poorer for it. So that I may lose myself and not care so very much about what is gone. So that I will stop trying to find and stick together all the little coloured pieces of my beautiful confetti heart.

I know she will be a masterpiece. I know, on all the levels that truly matter, she is my greatest work.

Yet I still hold dark dreams of a self that lives only for itself. That creates purely for the joy of creation. That follows the wind with a glad heart and a radiant smile. And who knows peace as a good friend.

Who’s with me?

*Photos from here
and here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be

Photo from here.

It feels like it’s been a looong week. Usually Wednesday is mummy’s day and Beanie goes to Nanna’s for some quality time in the garden. The first week of the month though is different, Nanna has her on a Friday and it makes for a long week. I have been more tired than normal (and I’m pretty tired anyway as a general rule) and the delight of my moon-time has been much enhanced this month with PMT that, had I not already been busy, could have seen me lopping the heads off passers-by with gay abandon. Guess St John’s Wort is too much of a wussy herb to deal with ‘women’s problems’ and, let’s face it, I have a spectacular array of those right now.

So, here I am. Pondering choices. The trouble with choices is that there are usually too many of them and they fill the head like a band of annoying Peruvian pan-pipe players (try saying that fast three times) until you just want to find a cave somewhere high in the Himalayas and stay there. And not even ‘until’ - just stay there. Period. So, what are these choices? Well, given the recent diagnosis of PND and my struggles with the whole motherhood thing, the choice I am faced with making is around whether or not to have another child. Its always been pretty much a given that I would have another baby. I have assumed that this is what would happen eventually but wanted to wait until I ‘felt better’ or less angry or less overwhelmed, which I don’t. Obviously. There is also the issue of my ‘advanced’ age in baby making terms. I am turning 40 this year and obviously fertility is an issue even if I don’t entirely believe that once you hit 35 all your eggs head speedily for the exit as if the ovaries are on fire. So now I’m not really wondering about how hard it’s going to be on my body and on my energy. I’m wondering if my assumptions about having another child are wrong. I’m wondering if I’m cut out to be a mother of one, let alone two. I’m wondering if I really will ever get to experience pregnancy and birth again. I’m wondering if my husband will get the second child he really wants but would sacrifice (how very biblical) for my wellbeing.

It’s a really hard decision for me. I have lived with the expectation that another child was a given. I have been preparing the groundwork for a long time despite much resistance, both conscious and unconscious. I have been chipping away at said resistance and now, with the PND Fairy taking up residence, I am having a good hard look at what I really want, what I think I want, what hubby wants and what is good for us as a family. I’m also allowing myself to think about the possibility of NOT having another baby and how that makes me feel. Actually, I know how it makes me feel. Sad. I have honestly been looking forward to the creation of another life, to another pregnancy and yes, despite my very natural fears, another ‘go’ at having that longed for water birth. I want another sibling for Lily. I grew up feeling very much like an only child despite having 3 (much older) siblings and it was rather lonely. I want Lily to have a confidante, a friend, a playmate and I want to see her become a ‘big sister’. If I choose not to have another baby, I lose all of that. I miss the opportunity to grow round and heavy with new life. To feel the little life moving around inside of me, pushing against the walls of its little home, letting me know that all is well and that he or she is there. I lose watching another soul come into being. I lose the opportunity to marvel at tiny fingers, tiny toes, feet so small you want to take them gently into your mouth, big navy blue eyes looking up at me. I will miss the tiny growsuits, the weeny nappies, and the hungry little mouth fixed on my breast And the milky sleepy smiling that comes after feeding. I will make a choice that forever limits my experience of pregnancy and birth to what I have already experienced and, to be honest, not all of what I experienced was good. I know its foolish to think such things but I still have the urge to ‘make it right’ – to have the birth that I so wanted for Lily, rather than the shock of the birth that we had. I know that these things cannot be mapped out. I am living proof of that. Yet, the yearning remains.

I remember when I had my termination all those years ago. I felt such loss and such a sense of yearning. I knew that I had begun a journey that my body longed to finish. I had started to call into being my mothering self and then had to abandon her because of the restrictions and difficulties of the time. I remember that body ache so well and I feel it now. The unfinished, unwritten chapters of my life are tugging at my hand and at my heart. Sometimes I think that I can feel also, the little being that still wants me, despite my failings, to bring him into being. I feel him with something other than my normal senses or awareness. He is waiting to see which way the dice will fall for him. And I don’t honestly know.

How is that you can shed tears for what is not yet in being? How is it that I can feel such sadness, such loss for things I shall never experience if I make the decision I am contemplating? Perhaps I have simply filled my head with too many ‘perfect birth’ scenarios, watched too many beautiful DVD’s about what birth could be like, if only we trusted ourselves enough. Maybe I have simply attached myself to this outcome too deeply and now that the time has come to pull out the hook, I am finding it painful.

And so. And so I sit here thinking impossibly difficult thoughts and asking myself impossibly difficult questions, (just for a change). Allowing myself the space to sit with it. Allowing the possibility that 'this is it for me' to be a fact and see how that feels. (Still sad). I know I don’t have to make a definitive decision tonight. But I do have to make a decision soon because neither my apparently absconding ovum nor me have the luxury of too much time. Most especially with our current fertility challenges to overcome. The question of course is, can I cope with the results of my decision either way? With second child or without second child, my life is difficult. The question becomes then, would it be more unbearably difficult with an additional child to manage? Would the joys of motherhood be overshadowed by the struggles? Would the PND fairy give up her rental and just move in? Am I simply giving in to the drama of it all and, on some bizarre level, enjoying the misery and all attention that struggling brings? I’m almost certain there is an element of that in there. I’m not saying that I’m enjoying my current difficulties but there is something in me that knows and loves drama. I come from a family of drama queens and I think that sometimes I don’t know how to live a peaceful, non-adrenalised life. I think that this little glitch in my programming leads to horrible incidents like last night, where we were nearly in a very bad car accident because I got stuck on the wrong side of the road with a car coming towards me that wasn’t slowing down. That was pretty dramatic. And I was the one that put us in that situation, albeit accidentally. I mean, what better metaphor for my internal life right now than a head on collision!

I jest. Well mostly anyway. I am just curious about myself in these places. I have been practicing mindfulness recently, (mainly in the car when I feel like I’m about to lose it with beanie), and keeping a questioning mind about my life. It’s sometimes liberating to think that I won’t have to do the whole toddler thing again or the severe sleep deprivation thing. But then I look in my cupboard at the tiny socks and shoes and run my hands over the tiny soft baby clothes, or I hold a newborn and feel that soft heaviness in my arms and that wonderful newborn smell, and I am lost. That mothering ache begins in my womb and I am full of sighs and deep longings once again.

What complex creatures we women are. How full of wanting. How full of light and warmth and life. And yet, how easily we walk with darkness. How calmly we hold hands with the devils of our own unexpressed longing. How willingly we sacrifice ourselves and quietly mourn the death of our wild gypsy selves.

Yes. To Be or Not To Be - that really is the question.
But what will be the answer?