How to: rewrite your story

This is a post for my mama,  who has a birthday soon.
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When you are at peace with yourself you realize how much energy war took. The angry, terrifying voice in my head that used to run the show is pretty much permanently muted. I don’t think it would be smart to become a parent to heal  yourself,  but damned if that isn’t exactly what it does.

There’s no metric that could measure the love I carry for my daughter.  It is of unfathomable depth.  It is back breaking,  bone crushing, painful love.  I am consumed by it and grateful for it. And I am transformed by the knowledge that this is how my mother cares for me.

Now when I look at adult people,  I imagine the babies they were.  I think of them being carried by strong,  tired arms.  When you were just a minute human,  someone carried you everywhere.  Before you could communicate,  you had a caregiver desperate to imagine your every need.  When you cried, you were comforted.
  
That knowledge is life changing. I am rewriting my biography now.  I am papering over the cracks with limitless, powerful, generous love.  In my ugliest times,  when I felt so alone I wasn’t sure I could go on,  I simply was not alone.  I was walking with my mama’s heart stapled to me.  If only there was a way I could have known that my mother loved me so hard she could taste it. I was never, not ever for one second,  living a life without love in it.

Our caregivers are selfless because they are giving us something we cannot comprehend. I feel so lucky to love like this,  and so delightfully grateful to be so loved.

Mama, you did your very best.  And it made all the difference. Happy birthday!
(Please pardon any strange formatting. Posting from my phone is a bit odd.)

How to: navigate a paradigm shift

I spent two years losing 90 pounds, and I approached it with the almost irritating earnestness that is my hallmark. I am an introspective extrovert, which means I think endlessly about everything but also share it. Community is important to me and I crave support and connection, probably because my inner monologue can be very cruel.

So, as is my way, I committed whole heartedly to my weight loss, and by all means it was an outrageous success. And I put every minute of it on display, gathering support and motivation from my loved ones. Every compliment was impetus to continue, every comment helped me view my physical body from a far less critical place than the lonely one in my brain.

I had a healthy pregnancy, gained minimal weight and lost most of it quickly. My body changed at a structural level and my figure now reflects my most significant journey to date. I am starting to ramp my cardio back up and have received a handful of kind compliments about my increasingly well toned figure.

Here’s the shocker, the twist I could never have anticipated: I want a private body. I want to own the physical space of my skeletal body quietly, with conviction and pride. I want people to notice that I am joyful and beautiful but I want private possession of my physicality. Which is not to say that the compliments are not appreciated but more that I want to love my body at such a base level that I don’t require compliments. 

Much of this is the result of motherhood. My imperfect body, which has caused me such remarkable emotional pain over the years, is my daughter’s adequate and beloved home base. It has been a beautiful body for her and for my husband and now it is time for me to love this home privately, quietly, honestly and without hesitation.

 

 

 

 

Possession

It shouldn’t be so easy to sum motherhood up in a phrase, but it comes to me easily and often.I am possessed. I have been sought after, desired, adored, loved, cherished. But now, now I am possessed. My tiny daughter weighs 10 pounds now but she is my behemoth; I am Sisyphus except I am delighted to push the boulder.

Norah is everywhere. When she eats, her nails scratch my breasts and her head strikes my collarbone. When I carry her she burrows her hands into my hair and I untangle long strands  from her fingers throughout the day. I know the significance of every noise she makes. We are so interconnected that I often know she’s woken even if she’s in another room.

For 9 months I was Norah’s universe and it hasn’t changed for her just because she now sleeps down the hall. To become a mother is to be pressed into ceaseless service, to spend your days enthralled and dizzy, satisfied and numb, happier than you’ve ever been and sad you’ve never been this happy before. Motherhood is possession, glorious gruesome painful delicious possession.

How to: become a real parent

Pregnancy is academic, mostly. You know you’ll be a mom, and it’ll mean a bunch of new behaviors and practices and events. But you’re a pre-parent, a meta-parent, a parent as newly hatched as the baby you’re growing.

That ends the night that you get a routine test result that would be a non-event if you weren’t allergic to the course of treatment. It ends when your previously planned hippie homebirth goes sideways and you need a new care team but can’t pull one together quite yet because all offices are closed. It ends when you are nervously eyeballing the clock, reasoning with your baby that she needs to stay put until you’ve got your (brand new) ducks in a row.

Three days ago I asked the universe how I would know that I could be a good mama. Trust the universe to be listening especially closely when I’m asking stupid fucking questions, right? I got it, out there. I really do. Because I know, in the clear concrete way that I know I could find my husband’s face in a crowd of thousands, that I will do anything, ANY THING, to get this glorious baby here safely. The strength of this conviction could rip the sky down, it could split the entire universe in half, it could unmake everything and then remake it again. I will cross state lines. I will call every single doctor and practice in this country. I would ransack my savings account, sell my house and quit my job. There is no end to the list of things I would do to ensure that this human person gets here safely.

Look, it’s mother’s day, and you haven’t bought your mom a card yet. You don’t need to. Forget the fucking card. When she kicks into that melancholy mama monologue where she tells you that she loves you more than you can ever imagine and she’d do anything for you, don’t roll your eyes, or tell her you know, or say she doesn’t have to do anything for you at all. Just hug her, a real one with both arms, and thank her. Because she means it. Boy, does she mean it, and there aren’t words on earth that adequately represent what that experience feels like.

We’re parents now, us two. It’s official.

 

How to: give up

Oh, dumpling:

It was maybe three weeks ago that I had my first big pregnancy epiphany. At the end of a disastrous checkup, coming on the tail end of a terrible week, I cried pathetic, huge tears on your father. He stayed up late with me that night, rubbing my hunched up shoulders, combing my knotted hair, and he helped me fight dangerous, adolescent thoughts of self-harm. “You have to care for yourself,” he reminded me, kind even when he was absolutely furious at my behavior. “The baby needs you.”

It was then that I realized you’d taken everything. All my terrible, self-destructive, last resort responses were gone because none of them were safe enough for you.  At that moment, everything felt null and void and I did not have space for that emptiness, that frustration, that sense that I had not signed up for this total invasion.

Yesterday, I realized how much I want you to take everything. You can have all of it.  You’ve crowded every inch of my body, and you’re welcome to it. My first thought in the morning is of you, and you’re the last person I say good night to every day. You can have every piece, every penny, every moment and I will be delighted, absolutely thrilled, that you wanted any of it.

Baby, I’m not an especially generous woman. I am feckless and demanding and flighty. My husband, a man who has loved me for every moment of my complicated confusing adult life, never could contain me. He has grounded me, and given me the safest place I could ever ask for when I’m ready to land, but he has never tried to rein me in or keep me. You, before you have even met me, before we’ve even been eye to eye–it’s you who has changed my life. You’ve made me cautious and careful and generous, more wildly generous than I had ever hoped to be.

I am only just realizing that you are my scorched earth. You have ripped the lining of my horizon into shreds and I will never be able to repair it. When you’re born, there I’ll be, standing on a new planet, totally remade. And grateful for it, and thankful to you. From that minute on, I will just try to keep up, and try to give you every thing, and hope that you’ll want some of it.

Stay safe, and brave, buddy. We’ve got a whole world to explore, us three, and we’re going to need a lot of energy for the trip. I’ll bring the granola bars, and your dad will read the map.

Love you,

mama