Monday, January 18, 2010

Despite the Dark, We See Light

Each day I make vows and each day I break them.

Is this the practice of new motherhood?

Each morning I make vows to write - write the overdue thank you cards, write my thoughts about this time of my life, write blog posts, write my proposals, write correspondence...write write write.

And I write nothing.

Part of the problem is that my mind still feels like it's been stung by a bee the size of large mixing bowl. I have very little creativity lately.

But what I do have is a lot of honesty these days. I think I'll have to take honest writing over creative writing. Perhaps someday I will create a curriculum to create "Honest Writing 101" to replace "Creative Writing 101."

Isaiah is four weeks old. Last night, as I muted the Golden Globes in the background and fed him, I thought how strange it was that time, productivity, and madness are all measured through this person. Four weeks. That's the only time I have known. Productivity - I'm all milk stains and sleep deprivation and dirty diapers. Madness - these winter storms and flu bugs have me a bit cabin crazy and on my knees, pleaing for spring's arrival. All I know and feel is through him and because of him.

Honest writing.

The truth is that I can't recall a time in my life where everything changed so radically and quickly. I feel like I'm on the other side of life now. Before Isaiah, I thought much of the world was divided between partnered couples and single folks. Now it's cut again with children. Having children is a much deeper difference than the single vs. partnered. The parents - regardless if they are partnered or single - are who I identify with now. The responsibility! The boundaries! The limitations! The joy! The expense! The perpetual worry! These are all things that I knew before, but knowing is shit compared to actually LIVING it.

Honest writing.

Children has changed my marriage. While I work very hard to build and sustain a healthy relationship with my spouse, I can see how the pressures of raising a family cause so much destruction, distance, and departure. I can see why people leave. And I can see how often women give everything away in motherhood. I can see how women can lose themselves; how easy it is to do everything the easy way and shoulder the load alone because it's complicated, time-consuming, and difficult to ask or expect anyone else to do it. I can see how so many adopt the I'll do it all and I'll do it myself" attitude until the entire list of tasks and details of survival has been hitched on their shoulders and the responsibility to care and anticipate needs grows heavier than the dreams dreamed before parenthood.

I think I understand that now.

I need to make and keep that boundary; a line that divides giving all that I have and forgetting my own dreams that were billowing well before my belly ever did. I will keep myself and therefore keep writing. Writing has been paused, but not forgotten. My pursuits have been slowed by not erased. The fear of losing my identity in a diaper is too great for me to forget that I am a person of many dreams.

Isaiah is the greatest joy I have known. He has brought to fruition the reality of unconditional love and, unbelievably, that I am capable of doing so. He has brought an urgency to my art, an expansion to my soul, and renewed sense of goodness in the world and people around me. I believe in people again. I believe in the inherent goodness of those around me because, despite all the darkness of the world, despite all the injustices and short-lived sprees of hope, strangers and friends alike REJOICE in new life. There are beams of sun on faces when they learn a new person has joined the human race. There is an unmistakable and authentic excitement in their eyes when they learn I was pregnant or when they first saw the wiggling blanket in my arms; it seems almost involuntary, as if it could not be helped.

That got me thinking.

If life is so tragic and laden with disappointments, why smile when a baby is born? Why celebrate when another has been created?

In all that adults know of this life, with all that we know about one another - our history of hatred and violence, our tendencies and selfishness, our egos and big heads - how is it that we, with all our flaws and cracks STILL rejoice in the knowledge that more life, another person has been born to this?

Is it that we hope this person will bring more good to the world? Is it that? We are hoping this little squirming newborn will grow to make change? To make a difference?


But I have come to believe that even with all the pain and woes of living, deep down, we quietly understand the miracle of existence is worth getting excited about; it's worth sharing. And we subconsciously know (even if we have consciously forgotten or deny) that life is good, love is alive, and while the problems and challenges we face will forever taint the horizon, the light that illuminates that very same horizon is mesmerizing.

And we rejoice.


  1. Anonymous8:26 PM

    I can only say that your writing has not suffered- it is beautiful and honest and heartwarming. Know that the first year is hard- very hard. The next less so and they continue to get easier in certain respects and harder in others. Embrace help, get as much sleep as you possibly can and try, try, try to enjoy these early moments as they will soon be just a memory and a photograph. You are blessed!

  2. That part about shouldering the load alone, I'm ashamed to say that for me part of it was selfish. I wanted to do everything because he's MINE! ALL MINE! I never wanted to let go of him or give him up to someone else to care for, at least in the first few months. After awhile though, you do learn to give him up little by little to the rest of the world, but only by tiny split seconds at a time. LOL


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