I do not know how to write a poem.
they wait, faithful
Like the trees and the tide
If only I had the faith of the sycamore
Remembering that the poem comes
through the ease and the unease, the joy
and the pain, the all.
They travel along some secret stream,
glide over rocks
gurgling to the song of the cicada.
I do not know how to do what I want to do.
it waits, faithful
If only I could remember the way the soft grass
hugs my wild and precious self.
This is how I will come to do what I do,
Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart
And try to love the questions themselves.
Six years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I was naturally living in the fluidity of playing with questions, similar perhaps to how my unborn baby played in the very fluid of life. I wondered: What if my child chose me? What if she has something to teach me? What if this experience of pregnancy and birth is full of potentiality?
Today, as my five year old attends summer camp, and I sit and read and reread the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s words, I am struck by how much I understood about life during those nine months when my daughter and I swam in the deep, deep waters of life.
Do not seek the answers that cannot be given you
Because you would not be able to live them
And the point is to live everything
Today I wanted answers, I was lacing up my running shoes to resume my relentless chase toward solutions. You see, my mind really enjoys figuring things out, and most of my life I’ve let this solution-izing mind of mine lead me toward some finish line. Today, I had to slow down, I had to quit the race and re-enter the natural flow and pace of a life lived with heart. I sat still in my backyard and remembered everything…And the point is to live everything…live like you’re pregnant, just allowing life to flow through you.
Pregnancy is a tender and powerful time. As our soft and round bellies grow, the world grows softer and rounder, more pliable, less exact. As our bodies stretch and expand, so too does our consciousness. Our babies invite us to grow along with them.
Live the questions now
Perhaps you will gradually without noticing it
Live along some distant day into the answers
The other day I got to watch birth happen. I got to watch a woman pull up all the strength inside of her and use it to bring a newborn child into the world. I got to remind this woman of that strength when in her mind, she didn’t think it possible. I got to watch her body do what it knows how to do, and held witness as her body taught her mind the incomprehensible. I got to breathe and moan with her through the process. I got to see the baby’s head emerge, out of one world and into another. I got to see the father’s overwhelming joy and awe at that moment as new life came forth. I got to see this baby placed on his mother’s chest and breathe his first breath.
Witnessing birth is like witnessing anything in nature do it’s thing. It’s in these extraordinarily ordinary moments when life truly makes sense. We don’t get it in our heads though, where we usually make sense of the stuff of life; we make a connection somewhere else. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to put into words.
I remember the moment my daughter was born. Here came this new, fleshy and slippery being, placed on my chest. Why was it so hard to believe? Didn’t I know I was birthing a baby?
My mind had been blown away and it was the sweetest release.
Birth taught me that we are capable of more than we think! We are more than just thinkers. Our true nature is that we are not separate from nature at all. When we start listening to this everything will change.
In the beginning, sleep was all I really yearned for. A good four hour stretch, and I might feel somewhat human the next day. I might perhaps feel like the girl I’d always known myself to be: prepared and in control. I wanted to feel my humanness–not necessarily an easy task for a new mom.
Ironically, though, it was the baby- the very one who was stealing my sleep- who woke me up to my full human being-ness. This is how it happened: Life started to get hard. It really sucked being sleep deprived. Later when my daughter started getting recurring ear infections, I thought- I should be able to handle this. I didn’t want to admit just how difficult it was for me! This was not who I thought I was! I felt ready when I arrived at motherhood, centered, and carrying with me an idea of how life was going to be.
That was the way I had lived- knowing what to expect. (There’s a reason What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the iconic book it is, because our culture places value on what can be known, logically, linearly, rationally). But life was introducing me to a new way, one that is creative, unknown, open and receptive. Life was giving me what I needed in the form of hardship and challenge and it was inviting me to create my own version of motherhood. I was being given the opportunity to define it for myself. To exchange the voice that says, “You should be able to handle this,” for one that says, “Surrender to what this moment is telling you.”
The impulses of creativity and evolving life are at work even in those moments when we want to pop some “Screwitol” pills.
Imagine this: The moment we say SCREW IT ALL is the moment we are being pushed toward something utterly new. Now that is not what we expected!
Barbara Marx Hubbard says, rather than wondering “What is wrong with me?” ask, “What wants to be born in me?” Maybe it is a new belief or a new rhythm to your life. Some thing wants to express!
It took a while for me to realize this, because in those dark moments, it’s so easy to just say Screwitol. But as I began to cultivate a space within myself, and as I engaged in new conversation with wise women, I came to see that Life is always in support of me. I’m no longer who I thought I was, the prepared and in control girl; out of the struggles emerged this new self- a woman open to the divine mystery of life flowing through her. Now all I yearn for is to be awake, wide awake!
No matter if you are a working mom judging yourself when you hand your baby over each day, a stay-at-home mom criticizing yourself because this is NOT the way you envisioned it (wasn’t it going to be all muffin baking Tuesdays and craft-making Wednesdays?); we are all trying to find the balance between caring for our children and caring for ourselves. Stop judging. Stop criticizing. Start creating something new. (It can be simple- create a new goodbye ritual, create a “mommy moment” in your schedule). And this is so important- start having these conversations with other moms! I invite you to start here in the comment section.