Thursday, April 30, 2015

Goodbye, For Now



My baby boy turned one on Tuesday.
I can hardly believe it. 12 months have passed since he came to me, fist at his head, ready to do life on the outside.

And life as I knew it was turned upside down, inside out, and changed utterly, forever.

I've spent this past year attempting to fit my old self, my known life, into this new one, without much success. 

I've watched (with envy) so many other moms manage to (somehow) juggle new motherhood with their creative writing lives and continue to produce such beautiful and meaty, bountiful fare for themselves and their audiences.

All the while, I've been unable to so much as journal privately more than twice in this past year. Seriously. Two times. I've been able to sit and write something about my feelings, alone, twice.

Some of that is due to my time no longer being "my" time. But some of it is that my mind is no longer the same. I can't focus as I used to.
I've discovered about myself that my process, creatively, is largely rooted in the need for spaciousness- the space to daydream, to contemplate. Blame it on my Pisces nature- I need to be able to float in those deep waters for inspiration to find me. 

At least, that's been the process until now.

Motherhood is requiring a new and often uncomfortable groundedness of me that, I'll be honest, I probably never would have chosen for myself. 

My son's gift to me- my little Taurean dirt child, born under a Taurus sun, a Taurus moon and a solar eclipse. (Yes, all in the same day).

My child is teaching me the ways of low-to-the-earth living. I've resisted. I won't lie to you. I've yanked back, kicking and screaming (yes, there's been screaming, just ask my husband and mother). 

But my little bull boy finds me, again and again, and pulls my feet back down to earth, then my hands, then my chest, and finally this stubborn head of mine that would rather rest in the clouds of deep spiritual thoughts than wipe up the shit and the smashed green peas and the snot and the drool and the salty tears of too-tired, babyland, I need you mama-ness.

He knows what I need- he reminds me, as all tiny children do their mothers, that my most important occupation- my most sacred creative task right now is loving him, full stop.

So my "process" will have to adapt, become more earthy, flexible, able to sink down as I do. 

I have no idea what that will look like, but I cannot compare myself to other women who seem to have found their own rhythm- something I can't claim to have found yet, even a full year into parenthood.

What I have learned is that I need to let go of my desire for perfection, and the guilt that assails me when I don't achieve it. I have to let go of my ideas about what my life, creatively, was going to be, and allow it to become whatever it will now. 
I've been carrying two minds around with me for more than a year now- the mommy mind and the writer mind. Trying to give them equal attention has proven impossible and painful to keep separate within my heart. 

On this eve of Beltane, as I think on the bonfires burning brightly, the celebration of new passionate life bursting everywhere around me, I have to consider that my own new life looks quieter, and that the things I used to envision can be offered up to those flames now. Not with bitterness- just acceptance.

I won't be writing here in the foreseeable future, and I won't be trying to keep up daily posts on my Facebook page. It's become a burden trying to keep up there and do life at the same time, so I'm
letting it go in favor of my sanity.

I don't know what my future holds, except to say that I will always be Cain's mama, and that is a gift beyond measure that has come with a deep and grounding presence into my daily (and nightly) life. 

He's requiring a maturity of me I didn't know I lacked, and am happy (and sometimes disturbed) to discover I can summon. He's growing me up into the kind of woman I always wanted to be, and never expected to be. It's humbling.

So this is where I leave you, for now.  I will say goodbye, for now, and blessing to you, and thank you. You've followed my journey as I've shared my own very human thoughts these past few years, and the response I've received from so many of you has been an unexpected gift.

Blessings on your Beltane, and be well friends.

Much love,
Sarah

P.S.
Don't hesitate to reach out! I can be messaged here or through my Facebook page ( which I will keep up, just not daily). I love hearing from you all, and will respond- I just can't promise it will be right away- we're quite busy playing and reading books on the floor these days �� )


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Relinquishing Control

We can't ask
for what we know we want:
we have to ask to be led
someplace we never dreamed of going,
a place we don't want to be.

We'll find ourselves there
one morning,
opened like leaves,
and it will be all right.
- Kathleen Norris 



Eleanor Hardwick



This past year has brought more change into my life more quickly than I ever imagined possible. It's been a bittersweet mix of joy and loss, fear and empowerment, and many bright emotions that accompany such an intense transition from woman to mother-woman.

I was born to a 29-year old woman, and became the eldest of 8 children to the same parents. No, we are not Catholic or Mormon. (We get that question a LOT in my family). NO, my parents were not trying to repopulate the planet (my mother was actually asked this question by a total stranger in front of 5 of us children while running an errand in town one summer day).

My view of motherhood, as a girl-child, was one of complete and total devotion and sacrifice to your offspring. My mama was THERE there, always present, always available to us. The three oldest children were homeschooled all the way through to graduation, and most of the others were schooled at home for the majority. My mother accomplished this nearly single-handedly. There were field trips to farms and museums and other interesting, and sometimes obscure locations. We got our hands dirty, and we all learned how to properly clean a toilet. We worked hard, and we played hard. We took care of one another. I was never alone, with so many in our home.

But I came to a decision as a young teen that I did not want children of my own.

Perhaps that evolved out of the struggle we faced for so many years living below the poverty line. There were too many occasions I watched the discouragement on my mother's face in grocery stores as she tore out paper food stamp coupons for bread and milk.

Perhaps it was the difficulty I witnessed in my parents' marriage- my father has always, to my knowledge, struggled with mental illness and a seeming inability to  step up, take responsibility and be an adult who chose to have many children. Added to this, he was abusive. Though I (now) feel compassion and forgiveness toward him, he is not a part of my life.

Or maybe it was the deep need I was coming to understand inside myself; the need for freedom and solitude that I intuitively knew mothering children would inhibit for a good number of years.
Perhaps it was all of these things in combination.

Then I met Nino, and we married 15 months later - a huge commitment that I struggled with for several years after our wedding day, only settling into a profound sense of peace and joy in our 6th year of marriage (see this post). It was yet another form of self-relinquishment that I feared, just as I was coming to know myself as an individual, adult woman.

At 25 years old, I was in no hurry to get pregnant. I knew Nino wanted to be a father. It worried me, because I had moments of hunger for motherhood- a child of my own- a second chance at childhood, in a way. But I had seen so much of the responsibility part of things, and had watched my mother's 'mother life' with a keen eye- I hadn't missed a thing.

My sweet Nino, on the other hand, had come from a family of two children in the home, and he was the youngest, and the only son to boot. We had vastly different experiences when it came to growing up.

We spent years having "The Baby Conversation" :
The pros. The cons. The realities and the sacrifices. His longing. My fears.
And then we were in our thirties.

We decided to go for it. We were ready. We tried to get pregnant for nearly two years, without success, and I admit that a very deep part of me was relieved. At least, I didn't feel guilty for saying no to my love, who had wanted daddyhood so badly.

So we gave it up and decided that parenthood wasn't meant for us. We rented a tiny house out in the country- 45 minutes from our family and friends in the city, with one bedroom and no door to the bathroom.

I left my job at the spa I was managing, and after taking some much needed rest, opened my own private practice. We would save, pay off debt, try to convince the owners of our little rental to sell it to us, remodel it and live happily ever after in the country, quietly and contentedly childless (not counting our terrier princess, of course).

And then I was late.
At first I wasn't too worried. I just... noticed.
Then a week passed. Then another day. Then another.
Then I freaked out.

Nino went on a hunting trip with a friend (one he'd been planning and saving for all year).
He would be gone 10 days. He left from work on a Wednesday night.
That night I took a bath.
I lit candles, incense, and turned on some sacred music. The house was silent and all mine.
The steam from the water filled the bathroom- the bathroom I had spent an entire day scrubbing, and two days painting before moving in just months earlier.
I placed my hands on my belly.
'I can't have a baby', I pleaded quietly with my body and whatever being might be planning to take up residence there.
Just the day before, while showering, I was musing about how things have a way of working out- that I would never be pregnant, never be a mama- and I was basically okay with that.
Now here I was, faced with something that I knew deep inside my body but couldn't yet face with my heart or mind.
So I begged. And bargained. And cried. Please, no. Please. Please...

And then I heard... laughter.
Behind me, underneath my heart, from somewhere far away and yet so very close I couldn't hold it.
A giggling, a chuckle, a laugh that was delighted with my fear and my pleading.
And I knew. I wouldn't speak it, but I knew.
'You don't get to control this.' were the words.
And my heart began to race after it stutter-stopped in my chest.

I didn't sleep that night.
I called my mother as early as I dared- waiting until I knew for certain she would be awake.

"Mama, I think I might be pregnant."'

"Ok...... well, honey, why do you think that?"

"I'm pretty late, and my body feels weird, kinda soft everywhere, and my boobs feel mooshy."

"Uh-huh." I could here her facial expression over that phone, I swear to god.

" I don't know if I can do this, mom."

"Alright, honey, well you don't even know for sure yet, so you need to go buy a test and just find out."

"I don't want to!"
I could hear myself- the whiny 10-year old pleading with her mommy.

"Sarah, go buy a damn test. You need to know."
Thanks mom. Always the kick in the ass I need, at just the right moment, in just the right tone of voice.

So I drove to the damn store and bought the damn test. But I had a damn hair appointment, so I drove there after and used the bathroom beforehand.

I peed on a stick.

They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. Well, the same thing happens when you're waiting to learn if your entire life is about to change....

The packaging on all these things says to wait 2 minutes to be sure that what you're seeing is genuinely the result.
Two minutes weren't necessary, apparently.
It came out with a plus sign IMMEDIATELY. So I peed on three more sticks.
All plus signs.

Oh Holy Shit.
My mind was doing somersaults, and my stomach was doing a pretty good job keeping up with that.
I felt the bottom fall right out of my plans, my life, my ... EVERYTHING.

The laughter again... it came to me quietly.

I was shaking.
I stared at my face in the bathroom mirror. I was going to be someone's mother.
Can I do this? How do I do this? We just decided NOT to do this! What the HELL?!

And then the immediate sense that I was absolutely NOT in control of this.
"You don't get to control this."
This baby had decided to come, despite birth "control".
I laughed in spite of my total terror.

True- I was out of control in the most real sense I had experienced to date.
My husband wouldn't be home for another 9 days.
And he didn't know he was going to be a daddy.

Laughter...

So, I went and sat down and had my hair done.
And I shook.
And I called my mama.
And I fell into another state of consciousness.
I re-thought and re- re-thought everything I knew about my mother, her life, her mothering, my relationship with her... it all became so different, so potent and so relevant.

And I held the secret from my love for 9 more days, in 9 phone calls at sunset checking up on me, even as my body began to be queasy and ill... I pretended I had a cold when Nino asked why I sounded strange.

Ok. I would have a baby. I would become a mama. Life as I knew it to be was over, but in a really gorgeous sense, and the life coming my way? Something unknown, something a little (no, a lot) scary, but something I knew was being sent my way, in spite of ME, to bless me, to teach me, to grow me, to fill me with a new joy.

Something in me swelled- something as yet unnamed, unknown, untouched. Something that would take nearly a year to understand, before this baby would appear. So, I would wait and watch and be brave.

One my most favorite lines in a movie, EVER, is from a romantic comedy. Here you go:

"You are everything I never knew I always wanted" 

yeah. that.





Friday, August 15, 2014

the Loss in Becoming Mother

 I was honored to contribute as a guest writer 
My first post published since the birth of my son,
 I offer this up with love and anticipation for the new
and beautiful chapter unfolding in my life.
Blessings,
Sarah






Transition is about loss first. Maybe we don't like that, but there it is. If something is changing, something is being let go of and lost. Maybe that's good but it is still loss.

I could tell you about my transition from maiden to mother.
Or about the transition from pregnancy to parenthood.
Or the literal transition during my labor and the birth of my son.

Each one of those things embodied loss in a way I could not fathom until I experienced it.

Regardless of the joy, the delight, the glowing-ness of what has become my new normal, I have been working through a deep and painful sense of loss; loss of Self as I understood Her to be.


Who I am is the collection of years of choices and experiences I've accumulated. But before baby, this was entirely self-propelled and motivated: Who I Want to Be. Who I Choose to Be. Who I Need to Be for Me.

Becoming Mother is entirely about Who HE Is, and Who HE Needs Me to Be for HIM. This means my body is no longer mine, but his. Ditto for my time, my energy, and any other resource in my possession that he can make any use of.




Honestly? There have been times it feels damn insulting.
But we don't talk about those feelings, because mothers are supposed to love being mothers.
And I do. I adore my beautiful boy, and I would not trade him for anything this world has to offer.

But there is pain of loss with such a transition. Grief for the death of everything you are that came before to make room for a new, gloriously tired YOU.

I grieved the loss of my pregnancy after the birth- that private, intimate joy of relationship with this cosmic, magical being growing deep within that nobody could hold but me.

I grieved the change in my relationship with my husband- stronger than ever, more lovingly wound with the tether of CHILD between us, but... changed, nonetheless.



I grieved the lost hours to write- to sit before my altar and meditate, to sit quietly as inspiration flooded me, igniting my heart with the words to put down on paper, in my journal, to share with others.

I grieved the loss of solitude in my home. No longer MY home, but HIS- where he is ruler; walked and rocked and nursed and burped and changed and loved and adored and shushed for endless hours, day after day, month after month...

My books and altar spaces and decorations remain, but are covered over with a thick layer of dust, onesies, diapers and everywhere the faint smell of milk. It hardly feels like the home of a priestess these days.

And yet, that is precisely what it is.

Becoming Mother is to move, clumsily at times, with the ebb and flow of night tides - 3am feedings when your beloved is softly snoring and it seems the whole world is asleep but you and this wildly new creature you're still learning.
Becoming Mother is a purpose-filled transition from What I Need For Me to What I Must: give, do, say, and be for the good and growth of my child.
Becoming Mother is moving in Isis energy- lover/mother energy that gives of herself, her body and time, her whole heart and soul for another because it's Who She Is, yes, but also because it's What Is Needed. Period. You're here, you're Mama, so get it done.

For me, this is what being a priestess looks like right now- I am midwifing myself into motherhood, and my son into personhood with each kiss, each hour holding up aching arms and every minute of so much tiredness I want to cry. It is my sacrifice- and it's nothing in comparison to what others have given- unremarkable, without extremes- but it is mine, a worthy offering for my own life, and my own becoming.

My transition into motherhood has felt like many things.
Loss is only one of them.
But it is powerful, and it is real, and it isn't going away.

It's something that will evolve as I and my baby do- morphing with each passing year into something beautiful and strong that can be looked back on with pride. And I do, already, because it is the hardest work I have ever been asked to perform, and I am doing it without knowing how, really.
But therein lies my work and initiation into the Mother mysteries:
the priestess-ing of my new Self as Mama- acknowledging and accepting the loss as sacred.

Loss is one thing shaping me for something entirely new- something I am beginning to see as quite lovely, something beyond the maiden years of rebellion against limitation and independence of mind. I am bigger now, more spacious for the giving, surrounded by the beauty of loss. May it be blessed.

Cain Anthony, born April 28
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