when i am listening to someone talk about art, and they begin to tell me what informs the painting, i feel my heart pick up the pace. this question of where does it come from always motivates me to look deeper, to press in. i begin by noticing all of these elements that i had missed previously and suddenly, this art is no longer just in front of me, but rather is it is in and through me and we are cut from the same dna.
i have been pondering this today. what informs my life? from where do i derive my energy or strength? what are the influences which lead me to believe one thing or another? this question of what informs my life is complicated.
motherhood has informed much of my adult life. perhaps only for certain seasons, like now, in which i find myself slightly sleep deprived with an achy back. in other seasons, it was my friends: long talks into the night, walking to the grocery store in the snow, or crying through movies. those places where the air is actually thin and as the celts believed, the divine peeks through. most days, being awake to the vast needs of marginalized people is more than enough to inform my life.
and whether or not i like it, pain informs much of my life and the lives of everyone i know. and humans have a great capacity for running away from pain, from avoiding anything that we see as negative.
as i thought about what informs my life today, i realized that even after all this time, i am prone to try and avoid pain. maybe i always will try. but now, i can see in my life, more than ever before, what beautiful and fierce works of art that are made when i allow pain to season and develop my life. the pain digs and carves inside me, and then those holes become cisterns and wells to be filled with divine compassion and love. compassion that otherwise would not exist.
on the days when i forget what those cisterns are for, i try to fill them with anything i can.
but today, i remember why they are there and their role of informing my life. and then i wait for each one to fill.
my boss swears that one day i will write a really good book. we’ll see. maybe by the time i am ready to write it, everyone’s cisterns will be old news.
so basically, i have spent the last two years of my life in prenatal care land. appointments, ultrasounds, glucose tests. last year of course, it was for my own sweet t who eventually made her appearance in january. and just as i finished up the last of my postpartum visits, one of my friends, one of my language teachers found out that she was pregnant. in fact that she was already several months pregnant when she found out.
so, we went to prenatal visits together, to ultrasounds together. she had a uncomfortable pregnancy, but nothing dangerous. and this baby was due last week. naturally, baby girl didn’t come when the calendar thought she should.
so when she texted in the middle of the night yesterday to tell me she was in labor (gratefully, t woke me up because she was gassy, otherwise, i might have missed it!) i was excited! of course! it’s time! i picked up my bff the doula/painter/community organizer/yoga awesome-er/has too many jobs to list and off we went to see how things were moving along.
and thus began the day at 2:30 am.
she was a champ! she worked so hard, even though she was exhausted, she stayed with us, she trusted us, even though she wanted to run away so badly. i wept with so much grief for all she has endured in her life and then enduring labor with grace and faith. it was so amazing to be a part of her journey like that.
and that is really what i am feeling this morning: how amazing it is to be invited to join in another’s journey. it is a great honor to be sacredly entrusted with the vulnerability and tender terror that rises in us when we do not understand our lives.
and the truth is a birth is only a well illuminated metaphor for this phenomena. every day, we are all given this trust by people in our lives, sometimes even by complete strangers.
it was a great privilege. one i will never forget.
and of course, at the last moment, when she thought she could do no more, this lovely lady arrived (see pic below), full of fierce grace and beauty.
as we sad goodbye to her last night, sixteen hours from our first texting, she hugged us and thanked us for being there with her. her heart was full of a new baby and gratitude. and then i thanked her for the honor of trusting me to walk with her.
my friend doesn’t believe me yet. that it was an honor to walk through those sixteen hours of her life with her. it’s okay, i didn’t believe it either the first time someone told me that about the hard thing i walked through. but maybe i am catching on.
i can see venus just to my right. and there is something so consoling about her. as though she is nodding to me, good to see you again.
on days when i am exhausted and overwhelmed, i can sit on my porch, rocking a fussy baby, and just watch the sky. it never fails to provide solace and comfort.
i will save it for always.
we continue to adjust to newborn hood. it’s true, we never realized what we were missing til we met her. 🙂 my uncle and aunt sent her a sweet book called “the night you were born.” if you haven’t read it, get it. it’s so sweet and special.
and it’s true for you too.
a good friend of mine told me that babies practice all the sounds of all the languages in the world in their first few months, and then they settle on the ones they hear most frequently. so i’m giving her a good خ (kh) now and again, so hopefully that letter will be easier for her someday.
she’s also attending the french class i’m teaching at the homeschool co-op, which is fun.
in other, non-baby news, i walked 3 times this week, in preparation for in two weeks when i can start running again. i’ve missed running. i actually find walking a little harder than running in some ways. it’s tough to go slow. i always kind of feel like a boss when i run.
i’m dabbling back into work also, and it’s going okay. the advocacy world doesn’t stop when you’re on maternity leave, so sometimes it’s a little overwhelming to pop in. but i’m getting an assistant soon, and she’ll be helpful, i’m sure.
we have dear friends coming to visit this weekend and another set next weekend. we’re so excited, we love visitors. aaand, that also means play. and we like to play. a lot.
i had a baby! 🙂
and it was great. wicked hard, but that’s why they call it labor. it was exactly what i wanted, water birth and all. there was this realization post birth that in labor, i was in this cocoon between my husband and our doula. and it was easily the safest place i’ve ever been, even though it was the hardest emotionally and physically.
we were built for intimacy and community in the middle of our pain. don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
baby girl is doing well, adjusting to the outside. after all that waiting, it’s funny, i read today on her newborn report that she actually scored more like a baby at 39 weeks gestation, even though by the calendar i was 41 weeks pregnant. so that’ll teach me to watch a calendar. not that i’ll need to again. i’m good.
she’s the sweetest angel and i love her so much. her big sister e is completely enamored. so much so that i was pretty grateful that school started back today, just so i didn’t have to have so much “help.” 🙂 really, though, e loves being a big sister. we’re sure that the newness will eventually wear off, but for now, we let her pick out t’s clothes and hold her whenever possible. i’m still not sure that e realizes t isn’t actually a doll.
t’s due to wake up any minute now, so i will close with a picture. that’s what you were hoping for anyway.
- sewing co-op friend: i call for your health, you have baby?
- me: no, not yet. inshallah, soon.
- sewing co-op friend: inshallah, yes. you know in home we say “eat jamal?”
- me: huh?
- sewing co-op friend: eat jamal, you understand?
- me: uh, sorry, do you mean camel? eat camel?
- sewing co-op friend: no, be camel. camel pregnant for one year, women who don’t have baby, they are like camel.
- me: *trying not to die from laughing* oh, yes. a camel, that’s excellent.