Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Sitting alone on my deck, cigarette in hand, thinking about my journey through mamahood. From the first moment I realized my breasts were tender...

and felt undefined possibility pulsing through my body, I was hooked. I knew I was meant to be a mama.

submitted by anonymous

My period wasn't yet late and I was thinking of names, thinking how the hell to get out of the chaotic swirling mess of an abusive relationship I was in; thinking of how I could save my own girlchild from being raised a victim, how I could teach my boychild to solve problems without his fists. Already envisioning myself saved and reborn through the magic of birth. I had no idea that after the birth the work really began. Far from bestowing grace, birth is messy... it pushed me to the edge of strength, through terror and collapse and beyond death... into greater awareness: bigger lessons: harder work.

On that first night home, alone with a wailing newborn, exhausted from 18 hours of labor and 2 days without sleep, I was walking into walls and to this day I can't remember if I ever thought to nurse my babe. Maybe I did... maybe I knew just what to do... but that's not how I remember it. This was my initiation into motherhood: exhausted to the point of collapse, alone and inadequate: or so I thought... Now, after nearly ten years of mothering my three girls and myself, I know that I will never live up to the cultural vision I had of being the perfect mother and finally, I no longer care.

Now I know how complex the dance is: allowing trauma from my childhood to resurface, honored by my willingness to see, held like an infant in need of love; rocking myself gently, I find compassion and forgiveness for my parents, myself, my children. I accept the fact that I'm going to yell sometimes... that I often hear my voice and think my mother is in the room... I notice more when I am soft and nurturing: yielding to my girls' needs with grace...

As I reflect on my strength, weakness, failure and bliss I am curious about papas... how do our journeys mirror one another and where do they diverge? What unexpected gifts come when you are pushed to your limits and how do your limits differ from mine?

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