FYI: This is a pregnant ramble and it may be filled with dis-jointed half thoughts but thats where I’m at so please forgive me:)
Happy Mother’s Day, from the depths of me.
Motherhood is not easy. I think all mothers would agree, especially the great mother that is the planet earth. I am sitting at my computer, drinking tea while my kids jump on the trampoline outside my window. Underneath the trampoline live our 13 chickens who are learning to lay eggs. I can only imagine how they must feel when kids jump right above their heads. Maybe like most of us moms who carry with them the constant feeling that the balance and harmony of life rests on them and their own skills in love, patience, compassion, damage control, management skills and blind hope and faith that we all make it out alive.
Of course, there is so much more to motherhood than that, but in this moment, as I sit writing at 9 months pregnant, knowing that just standing up out of my chair could throw my back out and send my entire life into chaos, these are my thoughts.
Needless to say, I have mad appreciation for all the mamas, and I hope all of you reading today are being honored in a big way, first and foremost by your own selves.
This past year I have thought a lot about the gifts given to me by my mother and grandmother. I don’t mean physical gifts, I mean gifts of life and perspective and habit and point of view that have been passed down to me, either consciously or unconsciously or cellularly for that matter, for better or for worse. The gifts we can’t easily shake or give back, whether we want to or not, as well as the gifts we are so grateful to pass on to the next generation.
Before I start to list the gifts that I appreciate I want to take a minute to acknowledge that we all have unwanted gifts that we carry from our mothers and grandmothers. Some of us may call this ‘baggage’ but I kind of like ‘gifts’ because they truly can be such an opportunity for growth and compassion and freeing and empowering ourselves when we can begin to dig in and try to better understand them. These gifts often have to do with boundaries, money/abundance, trust, our bodies, our sexuality, our confidence and our voice. I wish for all of us the bravery and strength to look at these unwanted gifts and strive to learn how to let go of them with love without carrying them into the next gen. These gifts are not really ours in the first place.
It has felt important this past year to capture my grandmothers gifts and words and stories in time, in tangible, for my own children. I bought a journal, and every few pages, I wrote a question or writing prompt to my grandmother. Everything from life philosophy to favorite recipe to medicine, flowers, ways to pass the time, tips for motherhood and stories about her own mother. I filled up the journal with these q’s and prompts, then wrote an apologetic letter to her both pleading for her words and apologizing for the inconvenience of asking so much of her. I sent it to her in the mail…..I sent chocolate too, to sweeten the deal. I crossed my fingers but held no expectations.
2 weeks ago, she sent it back, filled with words and stories. It is hard to describe the feeling of holding it in my hands. I want to share some highlights, without getting too personal or going into too much depth.
In the spirit of Mother’s day, I want to share some wisdom from my grandmother.
Grandma has always understood the whole ‘you take care of you’ thing and I think it is half of the keys to her happiness in life. She never depended on or expected anyone else to take care of her, she just considered it an added bonus if they did without resentment if they didn’t. Can you imaging not ever feeling resentful of the people you love for not taking care of you the way you wish they would? To me this sounds like the ultimate freedom.
Grandma is a shell-collecter and a flower grower, which has taught her to find beauty in the mundane, always seeking and noticing goodness in unexpected places.
Grandma loves her brother Jack, and thanks him for passing to her a love of sports and a competitive edge for cards, both things that have brought her lots of joy in life.
Grandma believes that service is a must. Giving back to the communities that we live in by showing up and taking part is the responsibility of all, even if that means
Grandma understands that this world is full of nice people, but that we don’t have to like everyone. Kindness is key, niceness doesn’t amount to much. Judging people is not a great thing to do, but we are all human and we certainly shouldn’t be too hard on our own selves.
Grandma loves a forage. She is an avid fisherwoman, clam digger and mushroom gatherer.
Grandma taught me that giving birth is every woman’s right to do however she pleases. She taught me this by choosing to birth her children consciously in a time when women were given Twilight Sleep, a heavy narcotic which made them unconscious and then left them with amnesia. This was the norm in the early 1950’s, and women were strapped down to their beds to birth their babies as their minds slept and their bodies writhed.
Grandma wasn’t into it. She didn’t like the sound of it. She didn’t trust it, and more than that, she trusted her own self to give birth without it so she convinced her young male doctor to support her with her choice, and as an experiment, he obliged her and embarked on his first experience helping a women give birth while conscious.
She gave birth alone 3 times to 3 healthy babies. I don’t know if she will ever understand the positive implications of her conscious choice in birthing on the future generations of her family. This has been a gift that keeps giving, and a gift I am really glad to pass to my own daughters. Thanks Grandma Suzi.
Friends, I am going to ramble on. This might not interest anyone but I have to share some bits and pieces from my 2 births and a little bit about this pregnancy. It sort of feels like a Mother’s Day gift to myself to get this off my chest, and my hope is that someone at least gets a laugh out of it or some entertainment or maybe a little bit of wisdom.
Marleys birth was so long. Labor started slow and intense and went on for a full day and night and half another day before it really hit hard. I was young and exhausted in a new place with really no one I knew very well, having just moved away from my family and friends to a little town in Arkansas. I was surrounded by kindly strangers who I trusted because it was in my nature to trust kindness.
As I labored I cursed my mother for not preparing me with the reality of the pain and exhaustion of natural childbirth. She had told me that she fell asleep between contractions and visualized wild geese flying in a silent night sky. She had made it sound peaceful and beautiful.
In my head, it was chaos and noise and fear, and in my body, indescribable pain and resistance. Here are the 4 things I remember best about her birth:
I recall my mother-in-law and her best friends faces smoothed together as they peered into the front window of the living room watching me as I pushed and pushed.
I remember my neighbor Ron walking into my living room with a lit cigarette asking if the party had started yet, and my midwife telling him to get out. He later died from getting drunk and walking off a cliff…..I think he had a dangerous knack for poor timing and alcoholism.
I remember the electricity that flowed out of Marley’s hands when she put them on me for the first time, after she was out. She literally shocked me with her energetic vibe. She came out red faced and yelling, looking just like her grandpa when he played angry protest songs on his banjo. Literally. I couldn’t believe it.
I recall my mother-in-law whispering ‘Toby Died’ into my ear as I held Mars for the first time. My beloved cat had run into the street and been hit by a car as I pushed Marley out of my body with a heave and a yell. Twas a mind-fuck.
Selah’s birth was quicker. I knew it was gonna be that day when I woke up in the morning. I sewed some leather fringe onto a purse, a project i’d been putting off for months. I started soup on the stove. My contractions started, and I labored on my knees on the living room floor for a few hours. I wanted no one to touch me or talk to me. After 2 hours of feeling really helpless, Jonny slipped gel knee pads under my bruised knees and gave me the relief I never knew I needed. He has always been really good about those sorts of things. Just when I think I can do it all on my own, he is there to help me in the ways I didn’t know I needed.
I started feeling like I was going to throw up, and he helped me into our tiny guest bathroom, which was the smallest most cave-like place in our house. I closed the door and felt safe for a minute. I puked many times, which reminded me that it was time to start pushing the baby out.
This may be TMI but if you have given birth maybe you can relate……..Pushing a baby out is like puking but out a different way. Involuntary and unavoidable.
Jonny helped me into the birth pool which was set up in our guest bedroom, and I pushed her out in about 25 minutes of pushing.
I noticed her hands too, which were as calm and grounding as Marley’s were electric. My midwife reminded me that I had to push out a placenta and I remember the boiling anger and insult I felt at knowing my job wasn’t over yet. I cursed my placenta. Birth is full of many feelings.
Intentions for this next Birth
After both births, I was up and busying myself with life and chores and work much too soon, something that I paid for in months of exhaustion and anxiety.
I hope to do things differently this time around. I have no real expectations for how the birth itself will go, although I have a feeling it may be fast. I hope to be surrounded by flowers because they bring me peace and happiness.
I will not be afraid of my own noises this time, because I understand the importance of letting go of all the inhibitions and roaring like a bear when it is needed.
I am much more prepared for after-birth self-care…….Teas, herb bathes, tinctures, lasagnas in the freezer, kombuchas and krauts to help me heal and digest, and a strong intention to take my time to heal and not push myself too hard. I will be better at asking for help when I need it.
Pregnancy is the Weirdest
It never stops being a totally paranormal experience, getting weirder and weirder towards the end. I have given over my body to a new being that I have not yet met. I can see it move, and feel it’s toenails scraping inside me. It craves things, and then so do it, through it.
Here is a list of things I really want to eat so much it hurts. But I can’t because it would be insane to.
City snow. Like the kind that is filled with care exhaust particulates and dirt. Not like clean alpine snow. I want to eat it so much it makes me want to cry out there is none around.
The entire earth and everything that grows from it and lives inside it. Mostly flowers. I have achieved this by actually just eating flowers shamelessly, right out of the ground, and also steeped into tea. My favorites, arugula flowers fresh and comfrey flowers steeped.
New Car Smell. Please let there be a way to make it possible to eat this smell.
Rocks and stones. Minerals, Clay. Dust. Sand.
( I am yelling at my kids right now because I want them to stop talking to me and do their damn chores.)
I really love them but sometimes I just can’t.
Harsh household cleaning products and chlorine. Pool water. That fake citrus cleaner smell. Lysol. I can’t even describe how much I want to drink these things. It makes me emotional just thinking about it.
I feel like such a freak and I’m embracing that. I own it. I can’t finish a thought. I am living in between worlds. I think about a person and they call. I dream about a person and they show up in my life the next day. I ask the universe for what I want and it comes to me in a strange and unexpected literal form.
I toss and turn and moan like an old man.
I talk to geese when I see them, and I know with certainty that I was one in a past life.
I feel like I’m on acid. Pregnancy is the weirdest. This post was totally all about me and I kind of wanted it to be about loving the mother earth because she is the one mama that always provides and forgives. She is my muse, as are all the mamas. I love all you mamas out there. Happy Mother’s Day.
Here is a beautiful hairstyle for Mother’s Day.