Thank you for your rich, soulful posts. I appreciate the honesty and intention which you are bringing to this process.
Also, I deeply appreciate your willingness to take the time to write in the midst of your busy mothering lives. I have found that when I give myself the gift of tending to my own thoughts, feelings and stories I become a much better mother to my daughter, Chloe.
This week, I am going to invite you to deepen with yourself and your writing. Please go back and re-read the original writing tips before beginning as a refresher. As always, I encourage you to be inspired by each other yet focused on yourself and your own work.
On a personal note, I was married last night to the love of my life at our home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After dating each other thirteen years ago we moved to different states and married other people. Eleven years later, both divorced and somewhat shattered, we found soulful and unexpected love in each other. I feel blessed today and humbled by the remarkable twists and turns of life .
I would like to share with you a poem that I wrote about Donald thirteen years ago and read at my wedding yesterday.
For Donald, July 27, 1992
In twenty years, when I pick up this page
Worn, tired, yellowed
Will I remember you
Will you be dancing in shadows
Of frozen pearl
Somewhere past concious
Will you be sweetly loved memory
Of one June summer
When I was still
Ripe breasted young woman
Or will you lie beside me
With soft laughter
And hold me near
In our shared innocence
As I read you this page
Thank you for allowing me to share this with you all.
I encourage you all to carve out some time this week to write and to simply be.
This week, write for fifteen minutes on three of the following six topics. Choose the topics that you have a gut reaction to. Do not over think your choices.
1. Either "My baby's first cry..."
2. Either "Ceremony"
3. Either "Broken promises"
* Write thirty minues this week on
"What brings me to my knees........."
* Have you started a list of what you feel inspired to write about? Have you included some of your passions and obsessions? Pick one of the topics from your list and write for ten minutes on it.
* Think about a ritual you would like to include in your personal or family life. Is it something simple, like lighting a candle every moring and taking a few moments to be grateful? Or is it something more exensive like planning a welcoming ceremony for your new baby or weaving storytelling into family dinners? Write about a specific ritual and how you would like to include it in your life. Be as detailed as possible. Then post it somewhere you can see and implement it!
*Write a letter to your child beginning with "Dear ...(child's name), keeping in mind the idea of "the most essential things I want you to know". Save this letter in a safe place and give it to your child on a special occasion.
I am leaving for my honeymoon today (Lake Tahoe!) and I will be sending you all my love and support and you deepen into your writing lives this week!
Tanya, congratulations and what an extraordinary story! T be reaquainted with the love of your life and know you will now spend the rest of your lives together is a wonderful gift. My thoughts are with you in your time of joy!
Wow! Congratulations! I wish you a lot of happiness in your marriage. It's wonderful to know you belong together.
Thanks for sharing your poem with us
There have now been several, and when I see you there, in uniform of dress and pretty shoes, in sash and hat, I cry inside because the days of leaf tossing and tickling in bed are nearly over, nearly over. I cannot even believe this is the baby I held and nursed. I can so clearly remember thinking "will this toddler ever grow UP?" and wanting you and needing you to respond to me, not be so selfish, not need me to let go of everything that I had to be there for you. And another first day of school, another passage into a new year of life comes and goes and you, my tiny baby, you grow into a woman before my astounded eyes.
This is what all those moms were saying when you were so little...enjoy it - it's gone so fast. It is gone, and I cry. I cry for the times I didn't get on the floor and play but cooked dinner instead, washed clothes, vacuumed. I cry for the days I had low tolerance and didn't allow you to fingerpaint. I cry for the days I yelled instead of understanding. I cry because I am running out of chances with you. I will never be perfect, I know, but I want so much to end the cycle of yelling and abuse, and I can see that I have curbed it but I did not end it. You, too, suffered, in your own way your soul was robbed.
I cry because I wish that you had more memories of the wonderful days we had together, but you were too little to remember bumping along in the backpack along redwood lined trails. Too little to remember the river and the cow parade and the circus performers in the park who actually juggled you when you were two. You won't remember, but my god how you howled with laughter, belly laughs that attracted dozens of passers-by. And you won't remember and we don't have pictures and I worry that some day I too will forget and it'll be as if it never happened at all.
I cry because I want more chances to change, I want more time to apologise, more saturdays raking leaves together and more nights reading bedtime stories. I cry because when you can't calm down and I get frustrated and have to leave your room, and I can hear you crying for more stories I remember crying all by myself and wishing, wishing so hard that someone would love me even though I cried. I thought it was the crying that sent her away. I always explain, but I want more chances to be patient and find the place of vulnerability in my heart that allows me to be with you when you cry and not become frustrated. I wish so much that I had more time to do that.
And then you have a recital and I see you alone, up on a small stage, and the audience is quiet and you play and everyone listens and you falter once, twice, but you play on and it is as if you are someone else up there, not the little girl that gives us cinderella plays in the kitchen. You are so big now, and each ceremony shows me that another inch has passed and another year will pass and another child is born each time, like the phoenix, from the ashes of the smaller child before. The ceremonies are so important for us both, my girl, but for such different reasons. My love grows with each one, somehow the space inside gets bigger to allow for more love to be there for you. And perhaps, as puberty comes, you will need every inch of that space, every ounce of that love to get you through? I won't be any more ready for you then, but perhaps with the right ceremony I will recognize that you ARE ready.
My baby's first cry... was the start of something I was no ready for. I didn't realize until now, how not ready I was. I wish I could go back and change so many things. I wish I could go back and change the way you came into this world. I wish I could have been more careful, I wish I could have prevented the things you went though those first few days of your birth, and I was not there. I wanted to be there so badly, but I was sick and you were sick and I had no one to help me. I wish I could go back, because I fear that someday you will grow up and blame me for what I have done wrong. You are and were so innocent. You were so patient with me, you waited for me while I grew up and became someone you might someday be proud of. I try so hard to be the best, because you deserve no less. I think this time around I have done a good job, my second child is the happiest boy in this universe, there is no doubt. He does not know what pain is, for I have prevented or comforted any kind of pain, I have held him in my arms and given up on selfish things I could not give up when I had you. I am so sorry. For you deserve just as much as he does, and yet you received less of me at one point. You will always have a special place in my heart. It is true that mothers love their children the same, I certainly do. But because of the circumstances around your coming into this world, you will always have a special, different place in my heart. You are the link between the girl I used to be, and the woman I am now.
Oh, Tanya, how marvelous! Congratulations and enjoy your new life.
And not fair! You post a poem, a beautiful, moving poem and we all aren't supposed to comment? Let's get real! It ws soooo beautiful.
Hearty congratulations Tanya. Your union would become sweeter by the long wait both of you made before actually tying the wedding knot. Hope you have a most memorable honeymoon to make up for what you missed all these long years.
My best wishes,
oh that was a beautiful poem Tanya! Thanks for sharing it with us. many congrats to you!
I hate to do this, but I just realized that I need to delete the fifteen-minute piece I had submitted here for reasons of anonymity (or for reasons of wanting to preserve my anonymity, I should say). I'll post a different one here as soon as I'm able.
Sorry about that!
Congratulations Tanya and Donald. How wonderful that life had a way of bringing you where you were supposed to be.
What brings me to my knees is birthing, is praying, is dying. I do not go lightly to my knees. I am meant to be upright, I defy anyone to tell me otherwise but there are some places powerful enough to lay me prostrate.
Birthing brought me to my knees in a way I had never thought possible. I learned to give up control, to ride the waves and breathe. I do not give up control lightly. I hold on to it with a claw like grasp, cling to it like a hungry babe at the tit, I lock it up and growl at anything that threatens to take it from me. I treasure it more than my sanity and yet when my daughter knocked and said 'ready or not here I come' I unlocked the cage, flung my hands to heaven and released my mouth to howl at the moon. I fell to my knees, shuddered, panted, pushed and let go.................
I fall to my knees when I am praying. Not the gentle, polite prayers of the Prayer Book or the ones we teach our children with cadence and rhyme. I fall to my knees and demand to be admitted to that Holy Presence where we barter and bargain with God. Where our souls are laid bare. That place where we dare to question why and how and why not. Where we expose our blackest hearts to the Brightest Light and coals burn our tongues. The place we never went in Wednesday night prayer meetings. I fall to my knees and weep for joy because there is such a place even if we rarely find the strength to go there.
I find myself on my knees in the dying, the decaying, the losing. I do not understand it. I am still a child but the evidence is all around me. An abandoned bird nest, another child left in a hot car, a wax figure that is supose to be my Grandmother lying in the scent of formaldehyde and lilies. I do not remember coming to my knees but here I am on the cold tile of my kitchen floor, steeling myself for the next wax museum piece and practising my plaster smile. But you would not wish me to linger here long. You would be embarrassed by such a display of emotion on your behalf. It seems disrespectful to stand but even more disrespectful not to.
So I stand, tall and dignified. The way you taught me, the way we women are suppose to stand. I find comfort and strength in this. I am meant to be upright and I defy anyone to tell me otherwise.
AURGH, TIME.............WANT TO EDIT.........MUST NOT EDIT..............TENSES MESSED UP........MUST NOT EDIT
I'm new here too, and this was very hard, but I'm glad I've joined. I'm expecting my seventh child late next month and the writing will help me open, will sustain me when times are difficult. I know that many of you understand. I didn't mean to turn to such a tough subject as the death of a child, but I tried to follow the suggestions and write about the topic that moved me. I guess he was on my mind tonight and I was unaware. Mmm...
Glad to be here- Ang.
Ten years and odd months later,
There is a small white box.
And I am standing over it still;
Bereft of- what?
Life, hope, joy, promise,
I remember, I remember.
Letting my tears fall onto your small white box,
Wanting desperately to give you something, something of myself,
And all I had were tears.
I am sorry, my baby boy.
I could not save you.
There is no goodbye.
We are always there, in that dim room,
And I stand over your small white box
And the tears fall and fall on to it,
Like my love for you.
I remember clearly how the clouds overhead foretold gloom that chilly afternoon. I remember sitting in my confined, messy apartment, absently lighting a cigarette, watching the tendrils of smoke rise up,intertwining until they slowly faded from sight. I waited. My mind raced behind unfocused eyes, remembering the phonecall the night before. That call, merely hours ago. I had not slept since. It was hard for me to breathe then, my chest shuddering with every attempt to pull air into my ever-tightening chest. Waiting.
It was three in the morning when you phoned. I woke softly, a smile playing across my tired face as I answered, knowing it would be you. Eight words, you said. Only eight, and my whole world stood still. 'I have fallen out of love with you.'
I said nothing for a long time, listening to the scream in my head unfurl until the silence outside of it became unbearable. The words I did speak, I do not remember, only the feelings. The memory of sitting there, alone in that dark space, trying to process what you had said. Night became hostile, uncaring, instead of warm and comforting. I wept through it, into morning.
I waited a long time for you, that following afternoon. I knew instinctively you would come. Lighting another cigarette, another solitary tear rolled unwanted down my flushed cheek. I brushed it away hastily, still clinging desperately to the idea that it may have been a dream. Three years we had together. There you are, I could hear your little car coming down the dusty driveway. I furiously stubbed out my cigarette, which had been forgotten anyhow, and was burning between my fingers, a long ash drooping off the end. The car idles for a moment, and you turn off the engine, cautiously. I did not answer your knock, instead letting you enter yourself. You looked at me, into me, as you always have. It broke me, and I fell into myself, my arms wrapped tightly around my shoulders, weeping. You came to me then, but I saw the flicker in your own eyes before you wrapped me into your arms. The resignation, the determined detachment, and also, strangely, the hurt.
My chest felt as if it would burst open, a pain clenched tightly around my heart. There were no words spoken that day. You turned my face to yours, and as I looked into your beautiful brown eyes, you kissed me softly. I followed you to the door, waiting as you started your car. A song was playing. It never became popular, yet I will never forget the words. They are seared into my heart for all time.
Congratualtions, Tanya! Marriage to the right person is a gift.
It was not what I expected. The leaves had changed—that much I could count on. But the weather turned the night before, bringing a cool, damp breeze over shore. As I pulled myself out of bed, fever pulsed across my forehead, chills ran along my spine, and a cold sweat hung on my pale skin. When I examined the damage in the bathroom mirror, I saw over a year of planning, labor, and anticipation etched in every dark corner of my face. How could I conceal it all? The meetings with strangers who eagerly up-sold my simple fantasies, the endless fittings with an affordable dressmaker who didn’t share my passion for couture, the uncomfortable hours spent dyeing, highlighting, flat ironing, pincurling, and updoing. The late nights at the kitchen table spent scoring, cutting, assembling, and hand lettering. The unimaginable sums poured heedlessly into greedy, overstuffed pockets. There is no bigger racket. Except, perhaps, parenthood.
But here’s my little secret. While everyone gathered at the bottom of the curved staircase, awaiting my dramatic exit from the dressing room where my entourage of lady friends was dutifully primping and advising me, I was off in the library with the groom, downing Nyquil shots with orange juice chasers. Like monkeys in love, we picked the lint from each other’s clothes and checked our teeth for seeds. And as my lover gently swept an errant lock across my beaded brow, I thought, this is just right.
In the Quaker tradition, we had an unprogrammed ceremony, which was a good thing since I was too sick and cold to stay outside for long.
Gosh, I'm not quite sure if this is what was intended in this writing forum. I'll post it anyway and if it's not within the boundaries/guidelines just let me know.
When I write I tend to lean toward the angst. Very few times do I write anything humourous (for future reference. )
Here is my contribution:
She didn’t mean to do it. But sometimes (most times) it just happened.
She’d promised them the beach. She’d promised them they could take out the bikes, pack up a lunch and ride to the beach and swim among the seagulls and geese.
It could have worked out: the sun was shining high in a cloudless blue sky. The weather was just warm enough to cause a slight sheen of sweat on their bodies. There was food in the fridge. Their bikes were in perfect working order. Nothing was amiss that would cause her promise to be shattered in the sad sniffling of her children.
But broken it was.
Mom couldn’t get out of bed. It wasn't that blankets were too heavy, after all it was summer and so very few blankets were required. In fact none; only a simple sheet. But there it was: a blanket tucked securely beneath her chin and wrapped tightly around her curled body.
The children stood in the doorway peering in at the motionless form.
No breakfast awaited them on the table. No cheery good morning greeted them as they lumbered down the stairs wiping sleep from their eyes, their mouths yawning greatly.
They’d eaten cold cereal alone at the kitchen table as they waited (and wondered) for Mom to come downstairs and make her morning coffee.
She never came.
She was stuck in bed.
Light breathing, barely heard coming from the huddle of blankets on the bed. The children tip-toed over and peered over the lump. Her eyes were open and staring straight ahead. From her mouth dribbled a thin line of saliva. The blanket shifted slightly in her clenching hand.
“Mom?” called the oldest, a young ten year old girl.
Nothing. Not even a moan.
“Mommy?” she called again.
Now the shaking started with more calls to their mother and still no response. Once again, they’d lost their mother to the incessant ache in her own mind. She was gone and no one ever knew how long.
They tried to call their daddy’s home but there was no answer. He was gone too.
As newly-delegated head of household, the ten year old took hold of her sister’s small eight year old hand and pulled her out of their mother’s room and into their own. There they played dolls and built castles out of Legos.
She could hear them. And her heart cracked a bit more. It cracked as it lay beside her, outside her body. It had torn through earlier that morning when she realized the gloom had descended once again. The chirping of the birds outside her window had only furthered the dampening process that had begun sometime during the night, so she had pulled the blinds down, closed the curtains and huddled herself deeper beneath the cocoon of the blankets. And that’s when her heart had come tearing out of her body to land with a sickeningly wet thud beside her, in blatant accusation of a weakness wholly outside her control.
She heard their small voices as they spoke in hushed tones beyond the walls. They knew what to do: keep busy and don’t make any messes. It wasn’t the first time and she was sure it wouldn’t be the last time.
That thought alone sent her scurrying even deeper.
Her face hurt to make even the tiniest of smiles, let alone speak. She had wanted to turn around and face her children, to let them know that Mommy was okay, but it was just too much to move at all. She heard their little sighs, and heard their little feet as they left her alone.
Perhaps by the afternoon she’d be better and they could have a simple picnic outside in the backyard. That thought carried a lot of weight with it though and none of it compelled her to move.
It was just too much.
Her eyes closed and she gave in to the gloom, allowed it to envelop her sore body and carry it away to someplace else. Someplace where there were no money matters, no dishes, no laundry, no defiant ex-husbands who cared not a whit about his own children.
With her children’s voices in her ear, she left them to their own devices as she tried to find herself among the detritus of her life.
I would like to apologize for what I wrote earlier. I just re-read Week One, and realized that the first six weeks are 'Writing Into Motherhood'. A memory I have from when I was nineteen does not exactly fit that criteria. I'll be back in the next few days with more. Sorry again.
12:10 AM 10/27/2004
What brings me to my knees...... Pain. Sufffering. Hurt. Anger. Lies. Mistrust. Tears.
I can't stand it. The pain, I FEEL it. I see it. I hear it. I touch it. It is raw. Like my heart is outside my body. Not just pounding,its ripping,tearing, gripping, clenching.Screaming!
I can see it in peoples faces.I can hear thier own hearts unbeating.Still.Solid.Cold.
I feel my stomache twist and turn. Doubled over. Kinves jabbing. My blood rushes faster. My neck muscles tense.Jaw clenched. Cheek muscles moving up and down in and out like they have thier very own pulse.
I want to rush out and hold them. Hold everyone. Shelter them. Shelter you, my chldren from the hate. Mothers hating thier own children. Causing thier own flesh and blood pain.I cannot take it one minute loinger.I AM each and every one of those children. Out cold in the night. Lonely sad and desperate to have somebody hold me.
Love me. Shelter me. Take me in. Tell me Iam worthy. I can't.
I can't feel it for me. Just for everybody else. Empathy that runs so deep I don' t even need to see your face or know what you look like I can read your words. You hear your heart whisper to you,I hear it scream,WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME? WHAT IS IT ABOUT ME YOU HATE SO MUCH?
I am just a child. My age says diffferent, but I am still just a child when I colse my eyes.
You left me when I needed you. I gave you one more try, you left again. I said it would de better. You left again. My life was dark.I went through hell. My life was burnt memories.Everything I biult for myself to be proud of, gone. Up in flames right before my very eyes.I needed you but you were there only to satasify you. Then you were gone. You though we should go our seperate ways just so you could hurt me one more time with your words. You didn't think it would really happen. You thought I would give you "one more try" I knew I would lose my mind. Go crazy. Be empty for ever.I try to hide behind it,get angry about it, not cry. If I started to cry for me I would never stop so I cry for the people I feel. On the T.V who have pain and sad stories to tell. People I see on the street. People in my life. I am always runniung . Running from the fear. It grips me like no other.The fear of loosing my children, my sweet beautiful perfect souls. Them leaving me like every other. I cannot be you . My mind playes tricks on me. My mind tells me I hate me more than you do.I don't deserve them . My children, my husband, my life.I try to be happy.I fake it.I try to give to them but how does one give when they are empty? I have lost so much in life.I have lost so many in life. Everyone at one time or another has left me one way or another. My rational heart wants to say HEY!LISTEN UP! You deserve to be here. You are thier mother.You did nothing wrong.Live life. Be happy. Savour it like you your junk food. The food you know that will kill you but you eat it anyways for the chance of maybe, just maybe...
Enjoy it.Live for your children, don't just say you would die for them. This is the face I wear everyday, when people are looking.
When I walk by I can hear them say all the evil things you have ever said to me. Don't look at me I say to myself.I connot bare to hear what you think. Go ,keep walking.Don't look.
What brings me to my knees you ask?
I just found this thread... and I love to write.
On "Saying Goodbye"... this is about my "first born"--my dog, who I lost in May to cancer. I had what is likely an unhealthy attachment to him--he saw me through some horribly difficult and sad times (pre-baby) where he was my only comfort... and he wasn't even 5 years old. I still cry for him.
I can feel him breathe
I can feel him next to me
I can see his eyes
I still can hear him cry sometimes
He was my baby boy
He was my pride and joy
We shared a special love
We shared what no one else could touch
And no one understands
He was all I had
Somehow he understood
And comforted me when nobody would
I only wish I could've done the same
I only wish I could've stopped the pain
I wish I could just hold you once again
What I wouldn't give to watch you play
Just to see you smile
Just to lay with you a while
To feel you by my side
To know you were alive
Nothing will ever take your place
Nothing ever could replace
I know we had to part
But nothing fills the hole left in my heart
As I stand at the door, I have no idea what is happening. Reality has not set in. I have no idea that this is really goodbye. It's over. It will take time, months probably for this to really set in.
I do not comprehend that saying goodbye to my husband this morning is really, goodbye. Goodbye to our five year marriage. Goodbye to my thoughts and dreams for our future as a family. Goodbye to so many things I haven't even begun to realize.
And there I am. I'm standing there in the doorway, pregnant, my toddler's haned in mine, the dog by our side. Today has no changed all of our lives and the shape of our family. Just like that. Just all in a word, goodbye, it's over. He just carries a basket full of clothes off to his van and it's over. Our marriage is over.
In reality, the marriage was over long before this. We had been two lonely people living more like rommates. We had not really communicated in months, in years, maybe we never did. But now, his departure seemed so final and I didn't feel ready or able to let go. Not yet.
Then everything was a blur. Crying, phone calls to family & friends, and me left there not knowing what or how to explain this to our son.
I know I felt fear. What now? I had no plan, no idea what to do. I really didn't see this coming. I'm scared about being a single mom. How can I do this alone? In reality, I had been dong it alone, but this seemed so permanent.
Standing there, at the front door, watching my husband, my love, my hopes and dreams disappear, wondering how I gort here? How we got here? And yet, to fast forward over 3 years now, I see myself standing there saying goodbye. Goodbye to a toxic relationship, goodbye to a life filled with anger, blame and resentment. Goodbye to unhappiness.
And when I look there now, I don't see it as goodbye. I say hello. Hello to a new me. A happy me. A peaceful, loving, cooperative me. I strong independent woman who is also a great single mom and is really finding a way to make it all work. I am grateful.....for goodbye.
Today was full of cleaning and packing. Packing because we are leaving for a meeting in Chicago tomorrow. Packing, because I can't stand coming home to a messy house. Even though we live in a messy house every day.
Dd used the bathroom, and while she was playing with the toilet paper, I noticed the cleaner bottle was still sitting on the counter from when I cleaned the bathtub...whenever that was...so I squirted it into the sink. I told Dd I'd be right back and I ran to the kitchen to get my gloves and a sponge.
By the time Dd got to washing her hands, I was almost done with the sink. But she took the time to point out the “scruffies” I'd missed. I continued to rub at the bits of soap stuck to the side of the sink. Dd is on the stepstool, supervising my work.
“Mama, when I was in your uterus, I could see your stomach.”
“When I was in your uterus, I would jump on your stomach.”
Yes, I remember.
I went to the cabinet to get a cloth, to polish the faucet.
“Did you like when I jumped on your stomach?”
I smiled to myself, and returned to the sink. Before I started rubbing, I leaned close to her.
“Mama, did you like when I was inside your uterus?”
“Mama, did you want me to come out?”
I gazed into the toothpaste splatters on the mirror. I remembered my pregnancy. The nausea, the bloating, the heartburn, the weird burning knees, the splitting symphsis, the back pain that put me into a wheelchair.
I loved having Dd so close to me that I could feel her every movement, sense her mood, even hear her thoughts. I know she could hear mine.
I was on the table, getting the ultrasound – the one the midwife wanted because she thought I was small for dates. The technician wanted her here and there, and said, she's so cooperative. She didn't know that as she was telling me what she wanted Dd to do, I was telling Dd. Then she said, now I need her to turn her head to the left. Turn, turn, I said silently, but nothing happened. The technician began to tap her feet. Turn, I said, like this, and I turned my head to the left.
Perfect, there she goes, the technician said.
I knew we'd never be that close again.
About three months later, we had made the trek to my in-laws. They passed Dd around, and it hurt so bad to put her into someone elses hands, I was going to cry. “I'll be in the bathroom for just a minute.” No one looked up when I left. I went into the bedroom we were using. I wanted to scream, but I tightened my shoulders and tightened my fists until my nails dug into my palms, the way I hadn't done since I was barely out of toddlerhood and would get very very mad.
I had no idea it would hurt this much, being so attached to my baby. I'm supposed to let her out into the world some day, and I can't even bear to let her leave my arms. What sort of emotion is this? How will I bear this pain?
Before I was pregnant definetly, and I think even after, though maybe not as much, because by then I knew Dd, I worried that motherhood would tie me down, and couldn't imagine bearing the endless burden of having some dependant person attached to me. The responsibility was overwhelming. How would I survive the years until she was ready to fly on her own and not need me to hold her in some way; physically, emotionally. I thought the pain of motherhood was in attachment. Now I knew differently. Attachment was the easy part, the pleasurable part, the sweet part I never wanted to part with. The pain of parenthood is the letting go. Saying goodbye.
We begin by saying goodbye to stages; the baby in arms becomes the moving target, the breast fanatic becomes the gourmet seeking “more Vietnamese wraps!” You say goodbye to the sweet two year old who inspires you to gloat, “the twos are terrific,” and are met by a three year old who thinks it's fun to terrorize you with rampages on the white couch while she's covered in almond butter...the couch you got back when the thought of parenthood made your stomach flutter and you never thought you'd have kids.
At the same time, you say hello to the little helper who dives under the chairs to retrieve your lost bacelet, hello to a dinner companion who compliments your cooking genuinely, hello to a 3 year old who warns you against taking a wrong turn on a road you've only driven on a few times.
You can't say hello until you've said goodbye. If you don't say goodbye to the old, your eye don't get fully washed with tears, and you can't fully see the new.
I have long wondered if my labor dragged on for 66 hours because my body knew I did not want to lose the relationship I had with my baby inside. I thought at the time that I was so afraid of being a mother, my body was holding off on releasing her, in order to give me moments, and then hours more of time not having the responsibility of her. A moment came when I told myself, you have to be ready, it's the only way she'll come. Then, my pushes finally became more effective and her head began to descend again. But I also think that what happened, was I was finally ready to say goodbye to the baby inside, and say hello to my daughter.
I've been asked to write a letter, telling you one of the most important thing I think you should know. This is an opportunity for me to give you my uninterrupted, advice, honed down to the essentials. Since by the time you read this, you know me well, you'll know it's hard to get me to hone done my words about anything.
I'm going to get to what I have to say, by telling you this wonderful story that says so much of what we are, and what I want us to keep being:
I took you to Baby Shabbot myself last Saturday morning, because Dh was staying at the house to help set up for the party. Women would be arriving around 11 or before. But I'd promised you we'd attend the October Baby Shabbot weeks before I scheduled the party. You does not forget these promises, and I do not break them.
I'm a little more comfortable driving the car now that I'm going to my weekly piano lesson, so I wasn't too breathless as I drove the car up the main road, toward the synagogue. I'd done this trip myself once already, for Baby Rosh Hashana. But this time I was taking Dad's shortcut. I wasn't taking the easy right angle route because that's 10 minutes longer than Dad's shortcut on Walnut Lake Road. And since it turned out we had to take the car for gas before I got on my way, we were late.
Walnut Lake Road emerges, an easy right turn if you know how to recognize it coming. Then a curve, cross a big road, then right, and left again through a suddenly bucolic respite from strip malls and low rise office buildings. Dd, here's the bumpy road! You're in the carseat, still facing backward. Will you like the bumps of the dirt road today, or will you complain?
I reach an intersection. Each direction looks the same. Trees here, trees there. Ahead, there's a dead end sign, so I know not to take that. But left or right? Hmmmm. Synagogue is right from home, I should just keep going right because left makes no sense. So I start turing right, and you call out, “Dad goes that way.” Emphasis on THAT, as opposed to THIS way that I was going. I'm alone on the road, so I stop just a few degrees into the turn.
Now, who do I listen to? An intelligent woman? A repected professional? A rational adult? Or a 3 year old in a rear facing carset, I don't know how she can even see where we are. I breathe.
The 3 year old, of course! I back up a bit, and redirect left. A few yards up the road, I recognize that this is the right direction. I laugh and say, Thank you Dd. I was going the wrong way. If you hadn't helped me, we'd be lost now. I'd spend Shabbot time out asking directions.
I reminsced how many car trips I'd taken with my mother and how it became a joke that whatever direction she wanted to take, I'd say, take the other one, and we'd get where we were aiming.
So as I drove the rest of the way to Baby Shabbot, I decided the one essential thing I would say, is listen to your children. All the other essentials will come from there.
But what about the time before you have children? What's the real message here, for the young adult woman you will be when I give this to you?
What happened in that moment before I made my choice? In that moment after I stopped the turn. I quieted my mind. I kept my body still. Maybe I even blinked a long time, or maybe I gazed into deep space. Whatever it was, I looked at nothing. The only thing I did was breathe, nothing else.
So that I could hear my own inner voice. The one that told me, Dd's watched this road better than you have. She's right. Remember! Listen to your child.
So that I could hear the voice that led me to the right place.
One essential I would want you to know, is the value of your inner voice. Listen to it, follow it. It will take you to suprising places. It will take you to the right places. It is yours and yours alone. Trust it.
When I am gone, if I have taught you this, I will still be with you. When you pass this on to your children, I will be with them.
Your inner voice will always tell you of my love for you, Mama
Hmm, did anyone else notice that Tanya's topics this week seemed to relate to the story of her re-found love??? Ceremony, saying goodbye, romance, broken promises, moving on, what brings me to my knees??? And rituals? Well, we know what was on her mind!
back to work!
What brings me to my knees.
Grief, joy, love. Any one of the three can knock you down, steal your breath.
Looking into my own newborns eyes certainly made me feel insignificant. Holding their tiny bodies, snuggling them. I never felt like the keeper of the miracle, but the recipient. It did not seem to ne within my power to create such a perfect being and, therefore, I was only the vessel.
My own husbands touch can make my knees weaken, til the feel full of jelly instead of bones and muscle. Just knowing that he truly loves me is enough to weaken my joints to the point of collapse.
Yet, ususally, it is grief that take sme so low, that knocks the wind from my lungs, makes my very heartbeat come to a shuddering stop.
With Joy and Love you can whoop and cry, celebrate, run around the the block, eat ice cream cones, kiss, talk, make love. You can show your joy to the world, allow everyone to se just how lucky you are. No one ever tells you to stop laughing, stop celebrating, move on.
With grief, you can cry of course, as long as you are careful not to cry too long, or too hard. There are limits, boundaries, parameters. You grieve for a few days or a few months, and then everyone tells you to let it go, to get on with your life. Can you imagine being told to let go of your joy? To move on and get back to reality?
Though you may make the effort, may even appear to the ever-watchful outside world, to be successful, you find you can not simply choose to move on, that grief site heavy on your heart, drags it down to live in a cold, dark spot near your feet.
Simple willpower can not chase away the pain of loss, for all grief is loss, whether by death of friend or death of dream.
Beyond tears there are few ways to show grief. Society is short-tempered with loud displays and long mournings. And if what you are mourning is the the death of a dream, be it of giving birth, or of one of your children being whole, or a personal goal moved forever out of reach, you are encouraged to deal with it fully, completely, with little outward display, and, above all, to do it quickly. No one liks a whiner or complainer, even if they whine or complain with reason. No one ever wishes to to see your pain, to watch as you grieve. Out of sight, out of mind. Cry quietly and get it over with. Move on.
As you’re reading this letter, you may be wondering if the mama who’s writing this is the same mama you know. Let me first introduce you to myself at 27. You’re almost 14 months old, and toddling everywhere. You’re a joy to watch, easygoing and sensitive baby boy who enjoys puttering around and manipulating many objects in a day. I love you, and I know no matter what, that I always will.
I’m writing this today to give you a peek into all the hopes and dreams I harbor for you, the long-term picture I’m holding dear in my countless daily interactions with you. Years from now, when all the craziness of schedules, school, another baby and work conspire together to make this picture fuzzy, I would like you to know the most essential things I want you to know.
The first one is: You Mama and Daddy love you beyond your comprehension. Always keep this in mind, even if sometimes you don’t readily see it. We love you for who you are and wouldn’t change you even if our souls depended on it. You’re a unique human being with special qualities unlike any other. Whenever life beats down on you and you feel like you can’t go on, reach deep into your heart and soul and pull up the strength you have within you to continue on life’s journey. You have it in your heart. Our love will always be with you.
The second essential I want you to know is: the world needs you. The world needs your talents, your skills and abilities to make a difference. You can make a meaningful contribution to anything you decide to pursue. You are capable of anything you program your mind to do. A tip? Program your mind based on what your heart and soul tell you.
The third thing is this: bad things happen to everybody. Sometimes you’re down and out, with nowhere to go, and you fear the worst is not over yet. Acknowledge that fear and consciously let go. Have faith that it will get better. Because it will. It always does. Life is a series of ups and downs. Focus not the fact that you fall down, focus on the fact that you get up again. We get to know ourselves based on our failures, not successes. When you use that knowledge, you are far better off and learn so much more than if you didn’t succeed in the first place. Basically, the lesson here is: embrace failures.
The fourth thing I learned in this life (and many people have, the hard way) is the following. Remember I told you earlier that you can set your mind to do anything you want? Well, here’s the follow-through part. Once you set your mind to that, pour heart and soul into it. Put effort, work, sweat into anything you have decided to do. You might think, man, that doesn’t sound like fun. However, doing that will reap rewards much greater in your mind, heart and soul than either not doing it or doing half or an incomplete job. Trust me on this.
The fifth essential is that we all have to get along with others. The world is filled with people, good and bad, strong and weak, smart and not-so-smart. Everyone is capable of making a significant contribution. The three words to remember and live by when you are navigating this world are: respect, kindness and truth. Respect for yourself, respect for others and respect for the earth and its resources. Kindness to yourself, to others and to the earth. Think of others and give to others. To your wife give your mind, heart, time, body, and soul. To everyone else, your mind, heart and time will do. Uphold the truth in yourself and for others. Defend its honor. Challenge someone else’s truth if your gut tells you to. Fight against injustice. Make sure you are true to yourself and your values.
The last thing that would come in really useful in your life is: read. Read a lot. Not just what others have written, but others’ intentions, verbal gestures, hidden meanings. Literature is a fabulous way of introducing you into others’ minds, of broadening your views and, in the process, discovering yourself. Whatever you read, let it go into your mind like a coin in a vending machine, and let your self modify it to its own unique shape. When it’s ready, it will be your true understanding of what has been written. Read with a passion; it will serve you well.
Honey, there are many more things I would love to tell you. As you most likely know, I don’t have much of a talent for the succinct. You will have to experience the rest of those things on your own. I have faith in you. I wish you happy times and manageable sad times. God doesn’t give you more than you can carry.
Brandon, I wish I could tell you that I will always be on earth to support you, help you and love you. But I won’t be. Some day God will take me, but when that happens, I hope you have learned these valuable lessons and know that whenever your heart beats, I will be listening.
My babies first cry I heard before i knew that he was finally out into this world.... I had to wait and wait an excruciatingly long time until my midwife told me to push. My cervix had a 'lip" that needed to expand so I would not tear. Finally she said the word I desperately needed to hear. PUSH! The first push was not strong enough, she said. I wondered how I would ever find the strength afer 15 hours of labor (and three weeks of "practice"), contractions every 3-5 minutes from the start, then closer. I called upon all the ancestors, and all the women's spirits of the Native Americans who visit and reside on this land I now called home as they had wisdom from their own "natural childbirths". The next push I got the hang of it, "Good" she said, "Now each time you push you need three pushes in one contraction just like that one." I quickly erased the little seed of doubt and followed her advice. Three strong pushes, now my uterus and I are one. Then my uterus takes over all control, I surrender. My husband supports me as I stand, My mom supports him, and then a half hour later, I feel the most incredible sensations, so hard to describe. As all my strength leaves, my screams and wails at their most powerful are answered by my sons first cry. A small yet powerful cry for my arms, my breast. I didn't know I had actually done it until I heard his first cry, then I finally could hold this sqirmy, slippery, miraculous soul close to my heart. A cry that seemed familiar. My midwife said, "a new sound in your lives.."
~~Hello!, I am new here. Happy to have found an outlet to express myself with other mothers. I have needed something like this for a while. I will write in the few minutes I get!
I'm to this group, and I haven't written anything in a really long time (about 6 years), but I figured I might as well jump in headfirst with something intensely personal:
My baby’s first cry is one I don’t remember. I was there - I birthed her in her future bedroom, the room where her father proposed to me just 3.5 years earlier – but I wasn’t really present. I worked HARD to push her out – 1.5 hours of intense contractions, I could NOT take a break, the contractions were SO LONG. I wanted my midwife to STOP supporting my perineum, but I couldn’t ask her to. STOP TOUCHING ME. Please, it’s intensifying everything, I can’t keep pushing so much, it’s too much. I think my body is confusing orgasm with contraction, but it’s way too intense. I need a break – 10 pushes per contraction is too much, they’re not working, I can’t birth her this way. STOP saying he. I know she’s a girl, I can feel it. If you stop touching me, my body will stop contracting so much – it’s TOO MUCH. Oh, I wish I could talk, I wish my mind and my body were one, why am I not in the moment?
When she was born, when my body birthed her, my mind was far gone. Let me back in, I need to see my baby, feel my baby. The cord is too short, the placenta’s not coming out. I’m supposed to do something – no, not oxytocin, why didn’t I finish that birth plan!? Please find another way, don’t inject me. I’m hungry, I’m in shock, FEED me! I’m bleeding a lot. Should I worry? TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON! I need to know where to direct my energy – everything is going black. Stop trying to shield me from what’s happening. Am I dying? I’m dying, aren’t I? Odin, I’m not ready to come to you, I’m not worthy yet. Frigga, Idises give me strength – my baby needs me.
I don’t remember my baby’s first cry.
This one was hard for me...deep...something I've wanted to finalize and get out for a long time. Thank you Tanya for giving me the push to finally do it.
Moving on was hard to do. We dated on and off for 4 years. I guess we really were never serious, though in my mind, it was you I was going to marry. But, I wasn’t as important to you as you were to me. When we met it was instant attraction. But you were dating someone who was really bad for you. I should have realized then that that would be your pattern for the next four years, while I sat around waiting for you to realize it. I kept telling you that you were with the wrong person, that you should be with me. You told me you knew that, but you were loyal to a fault. I watched as she walked all over you and treated you like dirt. When she was gone, you came to me and that was the start of our on-again, off-again relationship. I watched an endless stream of women come into your life, treat you badly and leave. Why was I such a casual relationship to you? Didn’t you see I was the one for you? Why did I allow myself to be such a casual relationship? Because I knew I loved you even though I never told you. We had a great physical relationship, maybe that’s a big part of why we kept coming back to each other. Two bodies, familiar and comfortable together, blending one into the other. But I think that’s what scared you most. I was good to you, we fit well together, maybe it felt “boring” to you. You kept picking “exciting” women. To me, I just saw that they used you and you let them treat you badly. But was I doing the same thing? Was I letting you treat me badly? Probably, but when we were together, it didn’t matter. By the end of four years, I began to realize you would never take me seriously. You would never allow yourself to see me as “the one”. It’s too bad. We always seemed to be the right people at the right place at the wrong time. So, I met someone who didn’t treat me as well as you did, but he loved me and was a good man. He wooed me. I saw you one time on the street when I had started dating him. You were trying to get back with me, but I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to move on. I wasn’t honest with you about it though. I brushed you off. Maybe if we had talked about it then, things would have been different. But maybe it’s not a bad thing that I moved on. Here I am with a beautiful baby girl, a great home and a husband who loves me. I worry sometimes that he and I love one another but aren’t “in love” with one another. But, we each give each other what we need. He’s my best friend. You called me last year out of the blue. Crying. Crying because you finally realized what you had had and that it was gone. What made you finally realize it? You apologized for treating me badly, for taking for granted how I treated you. You told me for the first time that you loved me. But it was too late. I don’t know if you thought I’d come back to you but I honor my commitments and I just wouldn’t do that. A selfish part of me felt glad that you longed for me and could never have me, but the other part ached for what could have been. But, I’ve moved on and this is my life now. We decided we could be friends, but I’m not sure if I can ever contact you again. I’ve move on. Cheers to you mate, I hope you find what you are looking for.
My Baby's first Cry
Sweat? No, was it tears? Something washed me as I heard my baby's first cry, that scratchy sandy wail that only a newborn can make. While I had heard it before, this time it came from my second son, and it sounded adamant and clear: "I want mom NOW! No measurements, no cooing, no small talk; I want warmth, I want familiarity, I want muffled sounds and dim light!" The rasping cry came from around the blue scrubs, inside the plastic bassinett, too many foreign obstacles between us, so I demanded him, as well. He hadn't cried after being squeezed through the cantaloupe vice, nor had he protested at being under the scrutinizing light of labor and delivery, but he was pissed now. Under the blinding warm heat lamp he lay, flailing and confined, assaulted with stimuli. I was meanwhile overwhelmed with conflicting emotions: pride and exhaustion, resignation, elation, disbelief: did it really happen so quickly? What time is it?
He smelled familiar and sweet, and as he cried out in anger (we actually photographed his shooting the bird at the nurse) all purple and slippery, they bundled him and brought him to me, swaddled for embrace. First look: puffy eyes peeking between blanket and bonnet, blue and weary, but crying no more.
I have been doing the assignments in my Comp book but have had zilch time to post so I will try in the morning.
When I was eleven my brother Matt's best friend died after a double lung transplant. Brett. He was like a big brother to me. Our family's were firends, and spent a lot of time togther. Brett's favorite candy was red hots. His father was a marine like my brother wanted to be, like Brett wanted to be, but never would be able to be. Not with bad lungs, some gentic thing he had had from birth. At 17 it had progreessed substantially, his skin had a bluish tint to it,and under his nails and lips it was just blue. We came home one day, I don't remember from where I don't remember who it was that told us. I think my sister Amy. She told us to sit down she had to tell us something. My head got light and fear filled my chest, my knees seemed to buckle but somehow I remained standing. They said Brett had died, That the transplant was succesful, but afterwords he wanted to be taken off the respirators. He looked at his mom and said "Tell Matt it worked, tell him I'm ok" Then later he died the lungs just didn't work in his body. I ached but I never cried.
My brother told the school nurse he was suicidal. She locked him in a dark room and called my mother. There was talk in my house about this, not to me but I heard. My mom was angry that they had locked him in a room, saying that isn't how you handle someone suicidal. Amy was 15 and i once found her journal in the car and read it. She talked of being lonely and unhappy she talked about how she just wanted to be hugged, and loved. I cried in the car well I should have been inside with the girlscouts. I was to young to understand a teenager's mind and the fact that in a way these feelings are normal. Matt and Amy's room's were on the bottom floor, the basement, although it wasn't like a basement. Every time I called down the stairs to them and they didn't respond I thought they had killed themsleves. I would walk slowly down the stairs my heart beating and my palms sweating almost in tears as i went to look for my brother and sister. They never killed themsleves.
My brother is a Marine just like he wanted to be, he's been in for ten years. I went with him to Brett's grave. The penny I had placed there years ago after he had died was gone. I had wanted to put one there every year but as my family does often we moved. I stood at his grave and I didn't cry but I ached. My brother left a medal there. I don't know what medal it was but this gesture made me ache more.
My sister Amy at times has been a parent when my father wasn't being one, with my mother she was a guiding force in my life. She is still sad sometimes underneath an incredibly bubbly surface. She still wants hugs all the time and assurances of our love. She tells us all the time "Guess what?" and we give the obligatory "What?' and her answer is always the same " I love you". We tell her also. My sisters and I (My family is close but growing up there was Matt and Amy, then there was the Girls. My twin sister and our sister Meghan who is 18 months older then us) aren't as demonstrative as Amy. We don't hug each other everytime we see each other, we only say "I love you" when we are leaving or hanging up the phone. But with Amy I say it more, I let her know, I hug her.
Sometime between then and now I went to a funeral. it was a boy I didn't know, a young man who had shot himslef in the head. Frank. We were all in band, my friends and I, and someone walked in and went back to the percussion section talked briefly and then left. I didn't find out what was said until afterwords, but the atmosphere changed. My boyfriend, a percussionist, looked strange. I can't place the look. Crazed, despondant, probably how I felt when I found out about Brett. Frank was my boyfriend Matt's best friend. They had grown up together, they were like brothers. They had grown apart some recently, which is why I hadn't met him, I'd seen him. He shaved his head like a checker board and dyed his hair green. He was walking down the hall, and Matt yelled "Frank" then when Frank turned Matt didn't say anything. Just a joke that I look back on still, and wonder. it wasn't more then a week later that he died.
After band Matt yelled, he punched a locker screaming, saying "why?" I felt my heart beat and my palms sweat. The same fear I had with my brother and sister was there. I told him I loved him I told him not to kill himslef I told him I needed him. Then he went home and I went home. It was the day before my 15th birthday.
Matt and I went to the funeral together. I wore Matt's clothes. I was grounded and skipping band practice to go. The church was so crowded there were about a hundred people standing on the lawn listening to the service over loud speakers. Matt and I stood with our arms wrapped around each other, my body supporting him. At the end of the service every student there walked forward. It wasn't planned we all just started moving and walked into the church and hugged and cried and held people up. I still didn't cry. Then as we were leaving white balloons were released into the air as they had been at Brett's funeral. I finally cried. I cried for Brett and for Frank, I cried for all the desperate teenagers who thought of or actually ended there lives. I cried for my brother Matt and my boyfriend Matt.
I broke the rule (sorry) i wrote it right here in this post, it took a couple of twist and turns i didn't expect and i do believe there will be more to this that doesn't fall into Saying Goodbye.
Spirited and wild
Willful and defiant to the end
Mother always said
"Pride goeth before the fall"
But Pride was my armour
And never did it crack
When the world around me crumbled
Pride held me tall
I soared above the mundane
Pride shielded me from lonliness
From the shame of my roots
From the eyes of judgement
I was too proud to cry
When my heart was broken and bleeding
Instead I raised my head
And swept from the room
So small and helpless
Looking at me with wondering eyes
In one blow, you have removed my shields
And revealed my weakness
You bring me to my knees.
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