My friend was wrapping a pink ribbon around a flower crown. “I don’t think about it too much, I just live.” She said. I felt a little surprised by that statement. Especially because, well, I do. “Omg! I think about it so much!” I said. I felt myself judging myself for being the way that I am. I thought: “She must think I’m such a freak!” I kind of am.
I don’t think about this often, but I do put a lot of thought into how I live.
I think about the food that I eat and feed my family. Where it comes from. The season. How it grows. Nature. Agriculture. What I can learn from the growth cycle of a plant. How to balance our meals and make sure our bodies get what they need. How to put together different flavors, colors, textures. Did the kids have enough protein today?
I contemplate weather or not I think about food too much. Do I teach my children about being kind to their bodies and to the planet through food? Or do I harm their souls by putting too much emphasis on what we put in our bodies? Do I create obsession where I so consciously want to teach mindfulness and healthy habits?
I think about who I want to be. Right this minute. Today. This year. In this lifetime.
I contemplate death. My own death. The death of loved ones that I will inevitably have to experience. The fear for the lives of my children’s, which I must overcome daily in order to not go crazy.
I think about fear. How fear protects us but also limits us. How it is necessary for our survival, while simultaneously puts us in all kinds of danger as it paralyzes us.
I think about my childhood and teenage years and how some things shaped who I am today, and others shaped who I am not. I think of all the gifts and treasures. I contemplate ways to break out of the chains that I put on myself back then, while listening to Alice In Chains. How to make jam out of the pearls that emerged from that time in my life, and how to give them space in the beautification process of my current life. How to not forget what teen spirit smells like when the time comes for my babies to be teenagers.
I think of my young adult years, and how I miss being younger and hotter. I think about the aging process. I grieve. And I think about ways to make this process empowering. I plot the ways that I will become a really cool old lady, and all the grace and wisdom that I will generate, and all the women that I will hold space for on their journey.
I think about how to make life meaningful. Always.
I think about motherhood. More than anything these days, I think about motherhood. I think of how to do a better job. I think of my own mom. And dad. How amazing they were. The things I want to do as they did. And the things I want to do differently. I think of how to speak to my kids. And how not to speak to them. How to hold space. How to protect but not over protect. How to let them be who they are. But how to not be a passive parent. How to be involved. But not be a helicopter. How to support their brain development. How to connect to their hearts. How to draw clear boundaries. How to give enough freedom. How I need to have more fun with them, more quality time, more silliness. How to talk about the hard things that come up. How to be less reactive and more responsive. I think of how much better I want to do tomorrow. How I need to work through the intensity of guilt. How much shame I have about messing up and being an asshole. How much joy they bring me.
“There’s intention that I put into how I do things.” I said as my hands wrapped green tape over the stem of a purple flower, adding it to the crown I was making for my daughter. My seventeen months old baby’s head was resting in the crease of my elbow while I added one flower after the other, one colorful ribbon at a time. He got on and off the boob seventeen times, maybe more, while I was making my daughter’s flower crown. Crawled away from me for a second, then came back. Complained about life, then back to the boob. Explored something on the grass, then climbed back on my lap for more.
My friend was trying, I think, to understand why I don’t change the habits that I have with my son, in order to help him be less attached to me. Or less demanding. Or pull on my boobs less. Or something.
We were at a beautiful birthday party for a girl from our daughters’ kindergarten class. It was the second birthday party that weekend that had a crafting activity for the children that ended up in the hands of the parents.
I think I was trying to justify how I was doing things. Explaining where I was coming from. He was a preemie. He didn’t have proper attachment in the beginning. I draw so many boundaries. So much of his life is about his sister’s schedule… I just try to follow his lead a little. I’m just trying to meet his needs. I’m just trying to survive.
I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.
All that intentionality, and I am actually totally winging it.
All them amazing parenting books, but really I’m at loss.
I didn’t like the way I wrapped the ribbons. It looked kind of messy. My friend kept asking me questions about my mothering choices. I felt like I was failing. I tied the ribbons in a really weird way. Maybe I think too much. Maybe I’m too uptight. Maybe I should loosen things up a little. A purple flower fell off of the crown. I tried to fix it. I used more tape. It looked bunchy. Messy. My friend was sharing her experience from when both her girls were really little, and how she needed to limit the access to her breasts. My son pulled on my shirt, trying to find his way to more milk. It didn’t bother me. Other things bother me. Many things bother me. This didn’t.
“You’re saying that you’re having a hard time, and sometimes we think we can’t change things, but maybe you can make some changes…” She said as she put the flower crowns she made for her girls on the ground.
My baby pulled hard on my nipple. Ouch. I felt a little annoyed. Then immediately I felt guilty about feeling annoyed.
It’s true. I could make some changes.
And then the realization… I am deeply committed to experiencing the fullness of life. And the intensity doesn’t scare me off. I have been intentional in the way that I engage the ferocity of this time in my life. The doubts that I have about how I mother. The grief that I feel about loosing my youth. The darkness that surrounds my heart when it is drenched in guilt over one parenting error or another. The disappointments… So many of them. And the loss of self that I experience every single day.
There is a new level of creativity that I have encountered within myself recently. I have never been afraid of the deep, complex, and fierce feelings that move through me. I am actually profoundly inspired by them. And in the intensity of motherhood, I have been discovering epic art pieces waiting to be birthed.
The darkness is not a problem. It’s thinking that we need to dispel it that causes harm to our wholeness. We are moving fast into the darker days of the year. This season calls on us to step down and deep and wide, into the nakedness, into the void, into the unknown. Leaves fall. Dreams fall. Identities drop. The wind blows through the trees, stripping them naked. Fruits hang off on their last thread. Earth is getting ready to receive the seeds. Dreams are making their way into the dark, where visions will stir us towards manifestation again when time comes. But for now, we are called into the dark. This time of year is necessary for nature’s regeneration.
“I have a hard time with the darkness.” Said my friend.
Most people do.
But the darkness is where we may cultivate the depth of intentionality. We can bring thoughtfulness, attention, and intention to how we move with the heavy, complicated, messy, cloudy landscapes of our soul. We can contemplate how to be with the hard feelings. How to live with our shadows. How to breathe when we feel contracted. How to talk to the raging fires in our heads. And the volcano in our hearts. How to receive the disappointments. How to make space for the bitchyness. How to sit with the pain, not force it to heal, and not hang on to the wound. How to feel free to be authentic as we navigate the challenges of life, in a world that offers no space for “negative” emotions, a world that thinks you should pop a pill as soon as you feel a little sad.
Whether we are intentional about our darkness or not, we are all just winging it, pretty much.
No matter how deeply thoughtful we are, we are still gonna mess up. We will be reactive instead of responsive. We will say some things that we will immediately regret. We will slip into habits and tendencies, even if we know better. We will storm. We will burn. We will rage.
Life is messy. We are never going to be perfect.
I looked at the flower crown I made. It was cute. Flawed as fuck. But kinda cute. My daughter came over, put it on her head, and then dropped it in my lap saying it wasn’t comfortable, and then ran off to play.