This part 2 in the series, you can start read part 1, A Birth Story here
Becoming a mother took me completely by surprise. I thought, “what’s the big deal? You have a kid and life goes on, they just mold to your life.” I wasn’t prepared for that not to be true for me. Three weeks in and post partum hormones flying I gave my husband a hug and cried, “I don’t want to have to leave her.”I did though, I had an expanding practice and commitments so I made the best of it and figured I would be that woman who had and did “it all.”
Someone once described pregnancy to me as a time where they had never felt closer to another human. Which is true considering all the same space you share, it felt even more true as a mother. My body knew what my child needed sometimes before Lia needed to communicate it. I often described infancy like having a third arm that was detachable. I didn’t know that motherhood would be to date my life’s greatest lesson in non-attachment.
As a mother it seems my greatest job is that of witness. It’s a lot of effort to develop into a person. The sheer determination to figure out how to roll over, to sit, to stand, to walk etc. There’s not much I can do make this happen except to hold the space for my child to figure it out. The challenges get harder as these little ones grow, some are physical, some are mental, some are emotional and my job (as much as I want to tinker) remains the same- to witness (and keep her safe).
I’ve said many times, this whole path to enlightenment isn’t found in solitude meditating on a mountain somewhere, at least not for me. Having a child has been the ultimate spiritual practice, the ultimate lesson in letting go. It starts at birth and a little letting go happens everyday subtly and not so subtly. This tiny person that my body housed and helped grow is not mine, not a pocession or accessory to my life. She has always been all her.
That was the other big shock of parenthood: the discipline, the practice of consistency. Consistency in boundaries, compassion, in keeping her safe, in allowing her to be her own person even when it means she might not be who I want her to be, consistently a witness and not an enabler. Its like having a personal spiritual teacher always ready to call me out on my sh!t. (every. single. time.) Luckily I get a myriad of chances to start again and there is no judgement when I don’t get it right even if it’s not without consequence.
Because of all of this learning I was terrified in the beginning after Lia was born of getting pregnant again. I wanted to give my whole attention to this experience. Like foreshadow in a novel my husband, who wanted 11 kids when I first met him, would say if for whatever reason we can’t have more kids I would be content with Lia, we are so lucky to have her.
Our lives carried on. When Lia turned 2 I realized the feelings I had when she was just 3 weeks old were still there. I had heard the longing in too many mothers voices whose children had grown that regretted not staying home with their kids. The whole super mom thing wasn’t working as much as I was trying. A great teacher once said that in order to be a great acupuncturist a practitioner must cultivate heart first, hands second, and mind third. I didn’t feel I had the heart space I needed for my patients and we wanted more kids. I struggled and agonized for months. (My amazing husband said do what you need to do I will support you however I can.) Would I be happy as a stay at home mom after working so hard for so long? Would it be best for our family? Would my husband resent being the sole financial provider? Would I be ok with not earning my share? What about my patients, who would take care of them? My lease was ending and I knew I had to make this decision soon. I kept pushing it off in some way hoping I would just get pregnant and then the decision would be made for me since we had agreed that paying for childcare for 2 kids didn’t make financial sense for our family. Then it hit me. I didn’t need to have another child to justify wanting to raise my kid and making our home life less hectic for everyone. Lia was enough for that. I made my decision but it took a long time before I could say it out loud. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to my practice, my patients, my grown up life. Some people were sad but mostly understanding and supportive of my decision to put all my efforts into running a household and raising our child. I was truly in awe of the outpouring of love from the community I had always dreamed of being a part of.
Ironically enough shortly after I made peace with my decision to give up work we found out I was expecting. I had just made it through the first trimester and the horrible fatigue and nausea were waning. I was looking forward to a summer of quality one on one time with my daughter and meeting our little turkey at the end of November.
To be continued… Skip the next part if you are pregnant or grieving or sensitive. Trigger warning for loss, grief, etc.