(My facebook status this morning~I've been posting things I'm grateful for every day leading up to Thanksgiving)
When I was a little girl, my sister and I used to play "baby." Other little girls may have played "house" but we played "baby." We started off by stuffing our dolls up our shirts and being pregnant for a while. Then we'd lay on our beds and give birth (because everyone gives birth laying on their own bed, right?! It's all we'd ever seen!) Then we would nurse our babies, use blankets to make slings to carry them around, change their (cloth) diapers, nurse them some more, and rock them to sleep in our little rocking chairs.
In other words, I have been looking forward to (and practicing) motherhood since I was too small to say the word.
|Me with my dolly Polly, next to my mom holding my little sister.|
We are 18 months apart, so I would have been about 2 in this photo.
Yes, I'm wearing a cloth diaper.
When I got married at 22, a toddler came with the package. (In fact, I started parenting him while we were still engaged--I stayed with him during the days while my then-fiance went to his college classes, rather than my finding a job and then our paying a babysitter.) So I never had that child-free 'newlywed' phase of marriage. That has never bothered me, because motherhood was always what I wanted anyway, and I didn't mind the head start on it. Sometimes my husband has been saddened by missing that though, I think because he did have that phase with his first marriage, and he knows what we missed. He has expressed from time to time that he looks forward to our empty-nesting stage, when we will finally have time with just us.
Recently we've been talking about our family, and whether we will have more children. We have mixed feelings on this issue right now (and have not made a decision), but the possibility of being done having kids is on the table, and I am struggling with it. Sometimes I feel peace about the idea, but sometimes I feel a gaping hole inside, and I've realized that it's because I identify myself so completely as a 'mother' that I don't know what I will do with myself when that phase is over.
I realize that I have a while (although Wolf is 10!), and I know that I will still be a mother, no matter the age of our children. I know that there is a lot more to life than babies. But still, it's hard to think of letting this phase pass. Perhaps it's because biological motherhood did not come easily and so I treasure it an extra little bit? Perhaps it's because motherhood itself--both the physical processes of pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding, and also the emotional processes of raising my boys--fulfill and empower and complete me as nothing else ever has.
I have been thinking about this an extra lot this week, leading up to Eagle's first birthday (today!) and thinking back to his birth day and how it has affected my life. I know there are many ways to feel fulfilled, and I don't know that one is better than another. But I know that my experience of giving birth last year was transformative and climactic for me. I felt tuned-in to nature, to my body, to my soul, to God, to time, and to eternity. I learned to let go and let God, to surrender to the natural cycle of things, and felt all the more powerful for it. That experience has significantly affected and shaped me, my perceptions of life and spirituality, and my way of living. Motherhood in general--and that birth in specific--have made me who and what I am. Is it any wonder then when I say that I find my greatest fulfillment in motherhood?
And, for anyone who missed it last year, I just had to post this again (Happy Birthday Eagle!)
(I'll have party/cake pictures to post tomorrow or after the weekend)