Sunday, June 30, 2013

being a mom is a pain in the butt

2012 was a bad year for punctuation and me. I didn’t have a single period and I nearly perforated my colon. I understand that had the third degree perennial tear I sustained during childbirth gone any further it would have effected my rectum, but the fact that I can type the preceding as a personal truth gives me the right to take anatomical liberty in the construction of a punctuation joke.

I went through a lot bringing a child into the world and then the real work of caring for it. My baby and I spent our early days together learning each others rhythms. I was figuring out how this person was going to fit into my life and how my life was going to have to change to make room for her while at the same time helping her navigate how to adjust to being an independent temporal being. Thus far the experience has been beautiful, humbling and grueling.

Early on I felt overwhelmed by the range of child rearing options and was fearful that I would make the wrong decision that would do some sort of long-term damage. From that place of anxiety I could see very clearly how someone could become defensive about their parenting decisions, or try to find validation in the choices they had made by demeaning all other ways of doing things.

I know now that there are three hard and fast rules that every parent must follow:
1) never shake a baby
2) never feed a baby honey
3) never search the web for baby sleep solutions at 4 in the morning
Outside of these the boundaries of proper parenting are wide enough to fit every parent child relationship within them.

Through the many hours I’ve spent bonding with my baby I know that the choices I’m making as a parent are the best things I personally can do to meet my child’s unique needs. This work also gave me the sense of having earned the right to be the kind of parent that feels right to me. This sense makes trusting myself easier and also reminds me to stay out of the decisions others make. Because if you want to have any say in how to raise a child you better be prepared for the possibility of having yourself ripped a new asshole.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

be loved

The first five months after giving birth were like the worst time of my life.

The worst time of my life began in the spring of my senior year of high school after a dear friend of mine was killed in a car crash.

At the time of her death my friend and I did not live near each other. She was not a fixture in my daily life and was not acquainted with those I saw on a daily basis. The last time my friend and I spoke I called her up and we chatted through the second half of a Saturday afternoon movie. That was ten hours before the car she was riding in slid underneath a semi.

     we spend a long time on the telephone line
     talking bout things to come
     sweet dreams and fine machines
     in pieces on the ground

Of all the things I felt when my friend died, I clung to and holed up in my sense of being alone. No one I knew had known my friend like I had, no one I knew could in real time relate to my loss. I knew that I wasn’t the first person in the world to suffer a profound loss; I knew other who had suffered through profound losses of their own. But no one in my life was suffering profoundly at the same time I was. I had no one to commune with during my experience so I sat at that lunch table alone.

With my friend gone I found myself looking for someone to fill the space made in me when she left. I wasn’t looking for someone to replace her, but for someone who could relate to my experience of isolation, someone with whom I swap stories about understanding that type of loneliness. Time past and I kept an eye out for this type of companionship. And then, when the number of years since m friend’s death were equal to the number of years I’d lived before I lost her, I had a baby.

Of all the things I felt after giving birth, I was holed up and alone. I had lots of help and support but I also had to feed my baby. I don’t know that I had ever devoted my self to anything in life in the way that breastfeeding my baby demanded. There were no days off. There were no hours off. This clearly became a metaphor for what it meant to be a parent and it wasn’t a fun realization to come to.

As I came to terms with how having a child was changing my life I felt as though I was experiencing deja voux. I realized that the dramatic no going back journey I was on was similar to the way my life was changed when my friend died. But I found that I was having the exact opposite reaction than I had before.

After I had my baby, though I spent a lot of time literally alone, I felt deeply connected to humanity. I understood that I was going through something every other mother goes through and I drew strength from that. I also understood that in every life there are moments after which nothing will be the same. Those are moments you don’t get over, but ones that having lived through will elevate you to a new level, even if it takes you a lifetime.