Friday, April 27, 2007

On Becoming a Mother 16 Years Ago Today

"It's not just the making of babies, but the making of mothers that midwives see as the miracle of birth." -- Barbara Katz Rothman

Declan turns 16 today. Whew, what a trip it's been! With the exception of coming to understand God's "voice" in me, having Declan has been the singularly most transformative experience of my life.

He was conceived in less than idyllic circumstances (I was split but not officially divorced from my first husband, very casually dating Hammy, un/under-employed, without a home or car, no insurance, no idea what the next step in my life should be-I was 24). Logic dictated that having a baby was the last thing I should be doing but...I just knew it was the right thing. I knew I would be a good mother and would be able to raise a baby-with or without his father being involved.

Becoming pregnant with Declan was not the beginning of me following my intuition (God within) but it was the beginning of me really listening for it and taking it, and myself, seriously.

Ina May Gaskin's book, Spiritual Midwifery, was paramount in helping me learn to trust myself, my intuition and the wisdom of nature. I think that my life would be very different if I hadn't read that book.

Homebirth, extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, attachment parenting, and homeschooling are all things that were pretty directly affected by that book. I guess I could take it farther to include natural family planning, re-washable menstruation cloths, pro-active health care and probably too many things to even consider right now; like so many things, one thing becomes the foundation for so many other things. I originally found a copy of that book in a used bookstore in Valparaiso, Indiana when I was 20 and several years from being ready to even think about having children (I was newly married to my first husband who, after we were married, told me that he was adamantly against having children). I read it then and was blown away by it. Later, when I found myself pregnant, that was the first book I dug out to read.

I'm grateful for the gift of that book, and the guidance of the wonderful midwife who cared for me, mentored me, and helped bring Declan into this world, Darlene Jesse (who now goes by the name Elizabeth). She was the compassionate mother and wise woman I needed at that time in my life. Her tranquil confidence allowed me to have faith in myself as a woman and as a mother.

And now my baby is almost a man. I mothered him the best I was able and I loved him more than I ever dreamed possible-still do. He's still a prickly teenager. He's tall and handsome, mohawked and punk. He's nicer than he was a year ago but I do look forward to him not being so dark and "anti" ("what are you rebelling against?" -"What have you got?"). I look forward to the day when he realizes that doing good in the world is not "going along" or "selling out", when he understands that his potential is HIS to own.

He got a phone call a couple of days ago from the kid he jams with. That kid's music instructor has agreed to let that kid's band play a song for a show at the Ryman and D is going to play drums. My son is going to play the Ryman Auditorium! I'm proud and happy for him. I think he's seeing himself as a person with potential to "make it" in the world. I could see him becoming a professional drummer, playing in touring bands (which delights and terrifies me in equal parts).

He'll be home from school in an hour and will be packing to spend the weekend at the Southern Appalachian Young Friends (SAYF) retreat that Nashville Friends Meeting is hosting. His girlfriend will be here from North Carolina as will his best friend (who now goes to a prep school) and his Farmie friends. It'll be a good time for him; a good way to spend his birthday weekend.

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