At forty-one years of age, and after having experienced a miscarriage last year,
I am now eleven-weeks pregnant with my second child.
Why, you may wonder, during this seemingly dark time – filled with eclipses of the sun and the moon, natural disasters such as catastrophic hurricanes and firestorms, as well mass shootings and other violent acts of domestic terrorism – would my partner and I choose to bring another child onto our planet?
Especially when it feels like there is little hope to be found amongst all of the collective carnage that our individual greed, pollution and war is wreaking.
Honestly, I do it to evolve my Soul and I am absolutely selfish for it.
Once upon a time, we had to propagate our species in order to survive on this planet.
Now, with almost eight billion people worldwide, our reproduction is no longer a necessary undertaking for our species’ survival. Instead, many can and do rightfully argue that our continued replication is an irresponsible deed, pushing our planet far beyond its innate ability to naturally provide.
In other words, today, we have choice and choosing to bring more human lives into form on this planet can be both an impulsively foolish as well as an incredibly hope-filled act of faith (and trust).
I also do it for the evolution of my children’s souls and, as a result, for the transformation of our species. I do it to change my relationship with myself, with others and with our planet – which I understand has and will have a ripple affect.
Because, ultimately, I believe that we – as human beings – are here to grow.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
I also believe that our being incarnate in this life form on this planet now affords us great opportunities for growth and transformation.
And I also think we are here to transform our handed-down traumas and mistakes and to use all of our past misdeeds as well as misfortunes as fodder and fuel for co-creating the world we want to live in – and not just the one we inherited.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart, however.
It is a spiritual practice in which I have been forced to confront my shit, over and over again – including my emotional turmoil that was hidden, for decades, deep within the DNA and tissues of my body as well as all of the physical maladies that I have picked up over a lifetime of both tumultuous tragedies and vibrant successes.
During the first trimester of my pregnancy with my now three-year old son, my abandonment wound was cracked open. At thirty-seven years of age, I hadn’t even realized that I was carrying this pain, which dates back to my time spent alone in a crib where I was left to cry it out.
And, for the past month plus, I have been in the midst of a “healing crisis.” Along with the development of an embryo into a fetus, my body – and immune system – has been working over-time to try and kick out some decades-old junk that has been trapped in my lower right lung.
The deep, intra-personal work continues long after a baby’s due date, of course.
What us Mamas learn, really quickly, is that these ten months of pregnancy, when this being is growing big and strong within us, is one of the most blissful parts. It’s after they come out and they are screaming in the middle of the night and they are needy and refusing to sleep for longer than two hours, and you yourself are already sleep-deprived and just needing a break, that you most assuredly come to understand just how easy it would be to throw your child out of the window!
A really wise invention of our humanity is that our children are born just so adorably perfect.
Otherwise, it would be, “Sayonara, baby!”
As turbulent and trying as this time of no sleep and little physical separation is, it too is immensely joyful. Witnessing, encouraging and, sometimes even, guiding all of the “firsts” in a developing human’s life is beyond words.
It is a sacred bond to be entrusted with the care and upkeep of another.
However, the euphoria of infancy also wears off. And your once toothless and gummy baby who drooled and needed help with everything begins walking, talking and asserting their selves as separate individuals from you.
The challenge has just begun.
To top it off, I am writing this as an American woman from within a country that doesn’t believe in supporting women or mothers. As a developed nation, we have one of the highest rates of infant mortality; we provide the least amount of paid maternity leave; and our childcare costs are astronomical.
Thus, many of us are staying home to rear our children where, often times, we live without the support of any loved ones or family members nearby. What this means is that we come to lead existences of isolation, and our lack of daily, meaningful adult interaction – let alone opportunities for tending to our own self-care – renders us depressed and lonely.
A tuned-out mother whose own needs for nurturance and soul-full nourishment go unmet does not make for happy children, or a family.
Just the opposite, in fact, as these factors contribute to higher rates of child abuse and neglect as well as spikes in mental health disease.
To speak of “family values” in this country is an oxymoron, to say the least.
So what do we do?
We re-create not the world we are already living in – a toxic environment where an addiction to consumption and a values system based in money rules the day – but rather the one we wish to thrive within.
We apply the raw potential that parenthood is – this act of calling in a new energy, committing to its growth, moving through the extreme discomfort of its labor and delivery and then remaining open hearted as it learns to think for itself and become its own individual – to whatever we endeavor to do.
We remember that the power to create a new reality is a birthright that lies within each of us.
What does a new reality look like for you?
Have you stopped long enough to reflect upon it?
Do you know what your values are outside of how you were raised?
For me, it’s a sustainable and dynamic village where children grow up learning the language of consent and where adults model behaviors of empathy and compassion for self, others and Earth.
How do I do this, you ask?
1.) During my postpartum period, I went to our local birth center every week where I helped to hold a circle for women and their infants in their first year of life. This meant that some of my own child’s earliest experiences included seeing me tend to other babies as well as sitting within a circle of mothers where he experienced himself not as the center but rather as a part of the whole.
2.) Since our son was six-weeks old, he has been a regular attendee at our weekly Dance Church.
His developing consciousness includes witnessing adults communing with each other, and their selves, through their bodies in motion (and not just their talking heads).
As a result, our son has healthy exchanges with a wide circle of adults. He is also quite adept at moving his own body through time and space and, for the most part (although he is currently growing through a developmentally appropriate phase in which he doesn’t like talking to strangers), he is unafraid to speak to adults and ask for what he needs and/or wants.
3.) When my partner and I finally moved into the large, suburban home we had been dreaming of, we hastily set to work in co-creating a homestead. We put in a clothesline so that our home is more energy efficient; we created garden space as well as storage for grey water gathered from inside of our home in our yard; and we also rented three of the bedrooms to community members so that our young child experiences living in community as well as the constancy of change. (We have had at least nine roommates, including three children, since moving in a year and a half ago!)
Currently, we have a single mother and her 15-month old living with us. They are like family in which our gentle boy gets to practice his big brother skills with her daughter. Meanwhile, both of us Mamas feel more supported with each other’s presence than we would if we were the sole directors of our own home. We also do a ‘nanny share’ in which we hire a friend to watch our two children here for the hours that are affordable to us as well as necessary for our own self-care. This reduces our childcare costs as well as contributes to the livelihood of our immediate community.
4.) Living this intimately with others is certainly more “work,” in that it requires ongoing, authentic communication as well as – for me, as the woman of this household – to release any notions I hold about how things should be done, i.e. how the silverware should be kept, etc. I also have to notice and let go of any archaic thought patterns that may rear their head, such as resentment over “there’s too much stuff in the garage,” which can lead to my repeating a decrepit adage like, “It’s MY home,” et al.
However, it is this “work” that our souls need most.
We are not meant to live in isolation.
We are a social species, and we thrive in and through meaningful interactions with a multitude of others.
Our American, single-family lifestyle not only wreaks havoc on our environment but it also breeds insanity. Think about it: how do you behave when you are alone with your family members versus when there are people who are not blood-related to you, or married to you, around? Having a wider circle of others we are emotionally intimate with keeps us in check.
5.) We are not meant to do it alone, so I started a mother’s cooperative out of our home.
Childcare is the most base, topical need in a mama’s life but she also needs emotional, educational and professional support – as well as resources – for assisting her on her journey. This is what we do here.
We co-create an exciting, outdoor space where our children gather and grow together as we take turns tending to them. We have a separate Wi-Fi equipped, co-working studio on-site where us Mamas can tend to our personal and professional lives. And we also schedule regular offerings, like child-friendly, community acupuncture sessions, emotional support circles and professional development workshops, so that our lives together as women isn’t just about our kids.
It is imperative that we model for our children (and each other) that our purpose for being here on the planet and our passions that sustain us while we are here are just as equally important as our roles of caretakers and guides to our most impressionable young people. Their lives, and ours, depend on it.
Jesus Christ was, first and foremost, an activist.
He tended to the most vulnerable people in society – the beggars and the immigrants, the prostitutes and the throwaways, and the women and the children. He kneeled on the ground and washed their feet, forever enshrining the demonstration of being in service to others.
As an American mother in our world today, I aim to model – through my words and deeds – cooperation and working together to help take care of the whole.
These are just a few of the ways that I embody parenting as a spiritual practice.
How do you embody it?