Monday, October 15, 2012

Four -The Birth Story

Next Sunday I will be the mama of a four year old.

What an amazing journey this boy and I have had for four revolutions around the sun.

It's a time where I reflect deeply on how much has changed and how much change there is to come for that beautiful boy, and myself.

Last night he asked me to tell him the story of his birth.

This has made me quite uncomfortable in the past, because my the births of both of my boys surrounds me with both love and darkness.  They were both caesarean sections.  I induced with Z, at almost two weeks past due, out of fear, and not having as big of a support system that I do now.  I didn't know then what I know now.

So instead of let this be something to tie my stomach in knots and place a lump in my throat I dove in head first, lighter than ever.

"Well, you stayed in my womb for a long time!  You must have been pretty comfy because you didn't want to come out!  (He laughs, that big belly laugh of a four year old)  So I asked the doctor about you and he said maybe we should try and get that boy to come out!  (He laughs more)  So they gave me some special medicine one night, and you sure must have thought it was more comfortable in there, because at first you just stayed put.  Then you wiggled, and twisted, and pushed, trying to come out, and my body tried hard to help you come out, and the doctor tried hard to help you come out.  But you were just too comfy I guess!  So the doctor said, "Mama, are you ready to hold your boy?" and I told that doctor, "YES, I am ready to hug my boy."  So he had to give me a little cut on my belly here (I show him my scar), and helped pull you out into the world.  We were so happy to see you we just cried, and cried, and everybody was there to meet you -Grandma, Grandpa, your uncles, and aunts, and cousins, friends, everybody!  You are the most beautiful special thing that ever happened to me, and I love you with my whole heart.  Then Daddy helped weigh you and measure you, and they brought you back to me and you nursed and nursed and nursed, and I never wanted to put you down.  Everyone asked me, "Mama, are you ever going to put that boy down?" and I'd answer, "Nope.  I love him.  And our hearts belong together."  And that's how our story began."

It was the first time I had ever told him our story without tears of sadness, guilt, or shame.  There's obviously a lot more to it.  I had a horrible, gut wrenching, scary induction, and caesarean.  But that's not important anymore.  I don't need to re-live the trauma.  I've done that too many times to count.  He doesn't need to hear that, especially at four years old.

There sure can be a lot of those emotions around non-natural births, and as one beautiful soul said, the "dogma around natural birth".  I am blessed because here at home, and through Momma Zen, in the Autumn SouLodge, I have met a group of beautiful supportive, unconditionally loving, amazing, mamas and women that know how to make a sister feel loved and whole.  I have finally, in the last year, sought out more and more support from friends, mamas, and communities of Soul Sisters.  I have told my husband how I feel, really feel, and he is beginning to get it.

I have met so many beautiful mamas with opposite experiences from mine, and some of the guilt, shame and sadness crept in, some told and some untold.  I've also met a lot of mamas, in real life, and some online in groups, that made me feel that their way of giving birth was superior.  But really, it's not.  We mamas have to stick together and be there for one another, support one another, and share stories, and experiences, no matter what they are.

Then I finally built myself up to it, and watched The Business of Being Born about a month ago.  Something shifted, and I cried and cried and sobbed like I can't remember.  I thought, "Why didn't I see this five years ago?"  But then it hit me over and over, and I realized, that I can't change my past, I don't need to change, or make my story better or worse than it is, it is my story, in my voice.  I didn't write it all, it wrote itself in a way, and that's fine.

I have put a lot of thought into it all.  I feel like I am in the final throws of letting go of the negativity.  I am sick of judging my story as bad.

My boy is about to be four.  That's a lot of time to carry around such unnecessary harmful judgements that serve nothing and no one.  I will deal with the feelings as they arise.

If you met us you would have no idea that I had such emotion surrounding our birth story.  Truth be told, the moment I held him, my world shifted in a way that is nearly unexplainable.  I fell so deeply in love, like never before, and none of it mattered until some moments where I sat alone and over-thought the tragedy around inductions and caesarean sections, and not having the birth I had dearly wanted.  We are deeply close and attached to one another, in such a special bond, and isn't that all that matters?

My boys are happy and healthy, and so am I.  This story can make me stronger, not weaker, I just have to let go of some of my ideas.  Not feed the negativity, but not ignore it, and in time it weakens and subsides.

Something has also been shifting in me in the last months.  Between Bodhi's first birthday in July and Z's fourth birthday, which is a month before mine, I feel that I am coming to see things for what they are, more than what I make them to be.  I am paying attention to my heart and intuition more than ever, and more than that, being okay with it and trusting it.  I am learning to follow that which matters, and let things that no longer help or serve me fall away.  Layers are shedding, shadows are being explored, with less judgement, and I am opening up further.  I am holding fear's hand, treating it tenderly with love, instead of letting it lead and break me down.  And it feels good to have a community and a practice, which supports not only the light but the dark.

It feels beautiful to be a woman and a mother.  More now than ever before.

I have also realized that I don't have to feel guilty about staying at home.  Like I need to be doing something more. -these unfortunate feelings creep in from time to time.  I'm learning to tell it like it is.

I am thinking about how things happen in time, in my own pace, and how I can't push the river.  I am not behind on  my path.  I am on my path.  I don't have a lot of time for my own work and creative journey, but little by little I am exploring it more.  An hour here, 15 minutes there.  Sometimes I just have to ask for space, and not feel guilty!

The wheels are cranking in my own creative work, thanks to my Creative Courage course, Ordinary Writing Prompts, and of course SouLodge, among other amazing people in my life that are following their hearts and living their dreams.  I am blessed to be right here, right now, at this time in my life.

I took these courses, and tasks on, to remind myself that it's okay to think about what I want to do in life, even if I don't have time to focus on anything for myself too hard or long right now.  I am learning some new tools on how to ask the right questions, and explore things deeper.  I am learning how to make the most of my space and time, and not just spin my wheels, and procrastinate, some days doing what I feel is a waste of my time -worrying and thinking without action.  It's also when I know that I need to sit on the cushion more!  Sometimes I need a little structure to guide my tired mama brain, without making me feel overwhelmed.

I also just read these beautiful words and feel that they are perfectly fitting.  Thank you, Stacy at Clover and Sage.  Yesyesyes!:

Vision (soil prep|seed planting) 
+ Action (cultivating|nurturing|weed pulling)
+ Trust (Harvest|Gathering|Bounty) 
= Living your vision (restoration|nourishing|reflection)

So this was a lot, a lot to set free, out of my mind, and into space.  Kind of a double birth story.  The one of my sweet boy, and the one of a mama coming into herself.

I am eternally grateful for my path.  As long and hard as it is.  Because it has made one strong mama with a ton of love in her heart.

I am grateful for my support, and my two little teachers.


Friday, October 12, 2012

This Moment

{these moments} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  Inspired by SouleMama.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Beef Stew

Grandmother gave me many gifts, which have been handed down for generations.  Simple family secrets about how to nourish your body and soul.

I imagine that every mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother before her passed them on by silently working side by side with every future generation, whether they were paying attention or not.

They are a part of my soul.  They are in my blood.  They are who I am.  They are who my children will be.

One of them arrived silently the first time I made beef stew all by myself.

She had written down many recipes, had given me her recipe books, and prepared many Sunday dinners as I watched from below.  As a child, she never told me the recipes, but she guided my young hands, and showed me what to do.  I can't say I recall any measurements, much less seeing her measure much of anything.  She just knew what to do.

I heard many a story about her mother, and Grandfather's mother, and the mothers before them, as they grew up in the countryside of Arkansas.   It was where Grandfather said, "you never knew where the depression began or where it ended."

She grew up on a farm, her father gone most of her earliest years, sick with tuburculosis.  As the story goes, he snuck out of the hospital and she was conceived.  Blondie Raye was born in a blizzard on Valentines Day, in a small home on in the mountains, into the hands of a thirteen year old girl, as her young older sister sat nearby.

Her life began the hard way, as future generations didn't.  They killed their own food, and canned, and froze goods for the winters and future seasons.  She struggled and treaded water most of her life.  Grandfather worked in the family's Gowens General Store, and eventually together they ran the Rainbow Cafe before they set off to make a life of their own.

She carried every secret with her on how to make good country food.  She knew how to improvise, and make something out of what some would see as nothing.  She probably baked thousands of cobblers, cakes and dinner rolls.  Stirred countless beef stews and chilis.  And when it was time shared it with me, her only grandchild, a the female, born of one of her two sons.

Before I had children, I could burn cereal.  Baking was another deal altogether though.  I luckily had that gift from early on.  But, after getting pregnant I decided I had to learn how to cook.  Some of my fondest memories were sitting in my Grandmother and Nana's kitchens.  They always smelled like food, home cooked meals three times a day.  I wanted the same for my children.  I love that they can sit side by side as I make hearty, healthy food to nourish us.

So a few years ago I decided to make beef stew.  The hard headed woman that I am I decided to take it on alone, and see what I could pull off.  I gathered the ingredients, searched a few recipes to make sure I had it all right, because I had no idea about the spices.  I always figure the simpler the better.  I wanted to surprise myself, and her.

Stew meat, carrots, potatoes, onions, beef stock, pepper, salt, rosemary, parsley, and corn starch sat out on the counter.  I browned the meat, added the spices and stock and simmered it about an hour.  Just before the timer went off I thickly sliced the carrots, potatoes, and onions, and prepared a few teaspoons of corn starch to pour in.  There were no measurements, just the thought of getting it just right.  I simmered it about another hour and during that time the kitchen smelled like my Grandmother's home.

I haven't ate meat in years but decided to taste it.  Somehow, the recipe was in my bones, in my blood, and I had pulled it off.  I made Grandmother's stew.

That's how so many of our gifts come.  Invisibly, silently, handed down from heart to heart, hand to hand, full of love.  They are given when we aren't even looking, and aren't sure we're really paying attention. Then one day, we look up, and they are there right in front of us.

It reminds me to be careful of what I do and what I share, because it will linger for generations to come.

Last night, on a cool Fall evening, we sat down around the table, and all my boys shared Grandmother's stew.

Thank you, GG.

What are some favorite gifts passed down to you from generations ago?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Even Daredevils Get Scared

Z is a daredevil.  That kid makes my heart race like nothing ever before.  He will climb, jump and explore anything that he physically can.

I'm the mom that gets stares at the park because, "Should he be climbing that?"  "Yes."

Scaling the uber slide

If he can reach it, he will climb it.
He'd attempt this before he could do it.

I let him push boundaries, safely of course.  He won't learn if he doesn't try.

It makes me happy that he's so daring, because I really wasn't as a kid.  He has taught me so many things, and being fearless is one of them.  It's not that he isn't a bit afraid or weary to try, but he will try anyways.

"Courage is not the absence of fear.  It's acting in spite of it." 
Mark Twain

So yesterday, we got a huge surprise.

We went to the Pecan Street Festival, and were having a blast people watching, snacking on fair food, and enjoying all the handmade crafts, gorgeous art, and unique vendors.  We found an Angry Birds hat.  Great music.  We even found his uncle!

Then we spied a tiny carnival just for kids.  A little ferris wheel, bouncy houses and slides, a giant slingshot and itty bitty carousel.  Score!

Z saw the huge ferris wheel from a mile away.  He smiled, his eyes gleamed and he yelled, "I want to ride that!"  The best part was, that he was big enough that he could.  We waited for tickets and as soon as we approached the ride, they took a break.  He was bummed, but the huge bouncy slide next door called his name.  The anticipation mounted as we peeked over to see if it was about to open up.  

Finally, it opened back up, and we raced over to the line.  He eagerly got into the tiny cage with another boy and we sat on the sideline waving and smiling.  I had my camara ready sure I would capture some huge smiles and waves.  

He got one full circle, with a huge smile the whole way.  I could see that he was soaking in this new experience, so happy he was there, and so curious, and so high up.  Then the ride stopped with him at the top.  Immediately, his face went from happy to unsure.  Very very unsure.  The guy running the ride had to get four more kids in the other cars then he would start again.  

Z looked at me and Dad to see if he was okay.  I could sense that he wanted out, but didn't want to freak him out.  I felt his nervous energy, and it was highly unusual for my little Danger Boy.  

The other kid was way rowdy, and bouncing the cart all over, and smiling and banging on the wall.  Z looked at him as seriously as he could and said, "Sit down."  The kid could sense he was nervous, so he sat down, but continued to yell.  (Thank you, kid.)  Z just looked at me.  I waved and smiled with a look like "you're okay".

Z stood up and walked to the door, and said, "I want out."  I replied, "It's okay.  Sit down, please.  The ride is about to start, he just has to get these kids in.  Okay?"  Again, the look of confidence, as best I could muster.  He trusted me, and sat down.  I could see it in his face he didn't want to.  

If he was seriously scared, or freaking out I would have done something, but he was learning his boundaries, and what he can handle.  The big thing is that he trusted us.  And he gave it a chance.

If the ride had just moved he would have been fine, but he was stuck at the top, for a little over a minute, with a rowdy kid, swinging, and trapped.  It broke my heart.  I very rarely see my boy scared.  I want to always be able to comfort him when he needs it, and gladly I was able to as much as possible.

The ride started again.  He was better, but not as happy as he had hoped he would be.  He barely waved.  I didn't want to force a smile from him, ignore his feelings, and pretend he was just fine, because it wasn't to him.  I did want him to know I thought he was okay.

And he was.

It was also sad to see my happy boy so forlorn.  He was so excited, then so quickly disappointed.

The ride stopped, and he stood up immediately.  He got out, and did not want to ride it again, as I thought he would before.  He didn't want to talk about it, but said something about not liking to be stuck at the top.  I said I understood, and smiled.  

On the way out of the carnival area, I saw a mom struggling with a few kids and handed her the rest of our tickets.  Hopefully they would have more fun on it than us.

Ever have an experience like that with your kid?

Did they demand escape or make it through?

How did you handle it?

It's so sad.