Thursday, April 21, 2016
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
Fallen human nature is a beast.
We know how to take all good things and turn them into twisted, horrible echoes of their former selves. My friend just had her baby and despite every inch of excitement and joy that I felt, I managed somehow to find a way to wallow in self-pity. Self-pity when there is new life and new joy in the world!
I can come up with any number of excuses and explanation. It's not like I have a great track record with mothers, or really women on their own paths to motherhood. I’ve had friends who suddenly never talked with me about anything other than their babies. Other friends have decided that because they are pregnant or mothers they have the right to judge and pressure me unless I also followed their life plans. And once I was embraced in the bear hug greeting of a woman while she yelled across the room, "Now, there's the person I really want to see!" to a visibly pregnant acquaintance.
If there ever was a symbol of the world and church's preference for the pregnant, that was it. A clear, visible reminder that among women, what counts is having a baby. Nothing more, nothing less. From my perspective, becoming a mother is the point at which all women's gazes turn inward. Damn the rest of the world. The ranks are drawn together, the lines drawn, and the people they all really want to see are those that are just like them. Insular, they now are supercharged to command the stage, and to let every other woman know that they are waiting, and expecting, their quick assimilation into the line.
But no matter how much of this is true, none of it, absolutely nothing from my experience, justifies my own turning of my gaze inward during the arrival of new life. If anything, it should draw my gaze upward, and outward, resting upon the face of the Father. He has given this life, he has seen it to fruition, and I give him praise.
I woke up on Tuesday morning and for some reason, I believed I was pregnant. My period hadn't yet started and for some reason it felt like it just wasn't going to happen, like my body was telling me it was producing life. Later that day the cramps kicked in and the illusion popped, but for a few hours, I felt so happy. The timing wouldn't be great, but I didn't care. It just would have been happy.
I have a hard time with mommies. But I'm starting to remember how much I like babies. Of all the pictures of this new baby that we've been sent, my favorite is the one where she is trying to open her eyes. She's squashed and bleary-eyed, and a little grouchy looking – and I love her. Her face in this picture is exactly how I feel every day of my life. Like if I could only get my eyes open enough, there might be some real things to see. But it's hard and painful and my eyes just can't get used to the bright light. They aren't used to working yet. One day they will be fully adjusted and reality will enter my perception and mind and self, but for now keeping them closed is the best way to cope.
Jesus, you are the light of the world. You have given my heart new eyes, but I can't keep them open. It's too bright. Please, please help me.
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About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.