This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bittersweet Little Onesies

So the clothes thing: in my last post I mentioned how clothing on our son sometimes feels like a sadness to me.  It's an indication of time, and so many parents want to freeze time more than anything.  Want to stop up that hour glass and play in the top half of the sands infinitely.  Maybe that is a memory we can live inside of forever when we are gone.

Here's what I'm getting at: when I was preggers, and nearing his due date, I was told frequently that the best thing to do after he was out of our womb (we shared it, really) and breathing well was to put him on my chest, at my breast, skin to skin.  Skin to skin was the phrase used every time as it was the important part.  It would keep him warmest.  More importantly it would begin the bonding between he and I as child and mama.

I'm a lucky woman.  And I feel more like a woman than I have ever before.  I'm not in the "maiden" phase of life anymore.  I wonder, now, what happens to "maidens" who never give birth.  What changes happen for them to initiate them into a phase similar to the one I feel I'm in.  I can't guess it.

Okay, I'll try -

I feel like, if I were the woman in her thirties (I'm not there yet, but next year will be) I would be thinking in terms of "adulthood."  That's the word I'd be linking to, I guess.  And these archetypal phases of a female's life would not get such focus from me.  I wouldn't be "mother" and so the "maiden" and "crone" titles would seem...unfitting, at best.

Oh, but that was a tangent.  I'm a lucky woman (would have said lady before - maybe that'd be the trinity in female-hood...) because I am in a Great setting for having an infant.  All the necessities, from my cultural viewpoint, are present in order to have had a healthy pregnancy, birth, and new family beginning.  All the necessities and then some!  I mention this because many of the instructions given to me just before giving birth and immediately following are so totally moot that sometimes I'm baffled when they're presented to me.  If I hadn't been instructed to put baby on my skin right after giving birth to him, I'm pretty sure I would have done so any way.  Can you imagine...?  "Well that's done.  Could you just set him in this sink? I'd like a snack and rest break."  What!?  My mothering instinct is fully fired up, gang.  I don't need to be told how to best support Salamander, it's instinctual.  I could probably use tips on things like kicking my over-sized book bag habit, or changing out the broken latch on my hatchback, but probably the best advice I've been given is to trust my instinct, go easy on myself, and maybe put a few of those books back on the library shelf.

I haven't even gotten to the clothes yet, have I?

After Salamander laid on my skin for twenty minutes or so, in the bloody bathtub where he'd just been born, his Daddoo and midwife whisked him away to warm towels and our bedroom.  I stayed behind and, a few minutes later, delivered the placenta.  After that I was helped out of the tub and slowly made my way to the bed where Daddoo and lil' Sal were waiting.  I think I stopped on the way for a few bites from a grilled cheese sandwich and some orange juice, cause damn, giving birth is not exactly a quick or easy ride.  I wore, at that time, some underpants and a tee-shirt.  Later, there was a surprise trip out with our six-hour old son to the hospital to make sure my superficial vaginal tear was, in fact, superficial.  And then the new mama and papa and lil' boy were home again to the warmth where they belonged.  We promptly got in bed, naked all of us (except for one super tiny diaper), and snuggled.  They slept the sleep of the supremely contented, while I watched everything from my perch on cloud 99.  I was conversing with guiding energies that night.  They were whispering to me about all that I had just done and about all that I would do next.  They were patting me on the back and telling me welcome.  They were laughing and smiling and hugging their arms round me.

The point, though I keep running around it concentrically, is that were naked in that lovely bed.  And we three remained mostly naked for the following week between the day of Salamander's birth and New Year's Day of 2011.  We snuggled endlessly, watched him endlessly, wanted to over-react endlessly.  In that time I imprinted the feel of his very new skin on my sense-memory.  He and I remained in bed for another week following, as we healed from birth and began our new acquaintance.  I stroked his back, his feet, his everything, and melted into a puddle of adoration that I'll never fully recover from.

Now, he's clothed most of the time.  He wears his cute baby-sack pajamas to bed and adorable little outfits all day.  If it were summer time I'd probably indulge myself in more naked time, but I don't want him to be cold.

What's more, he actually fills his clothes out now, at seven weeks.  They fit his human body instead of the slippery womb shaped bundle he began as.  It's wonderful to put him in all the cute things, and his new drooling mechanism is working so well that he gets to wear up to six versions of the cute outfits every day.  I joyfully agonize everyday about which pair of totally awesome socks to put on his soft little feet, but...
I miss the hours of stroking his velvety and silky parts as he quietly and quickly breathed his baby sleep.

That's the whole thing about parenthood, no matter how long you've been doing it (I'm told): it's the most bittersweet job.  As Kahlil Gibran says On Children
"Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you."

I would leave you with that quote to be all poignant or pin-droppey and stuff, but I just can't yet because I'm grateful.  I have always loved the edges of things.  I feed on where opposites seem to meet and become one another.  And this bittersweetness is the most immense version of that feeling I've ever felt.  Five years ago I had only the itchy lace on beautiful panties to adorn with this adoration.  I had the sad song that would break my heart with its beauty.  I felt a death so terrible I laughed and a couple of orgasms so big I cried.  I love him so immensely, and he is the "living arrow sent forth" from us.  "For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday."


Thomas (& Laura) Hodge said...

As a woman who has never borne a child, I can attest that I am not a maiden. I have worn thin on having my "womanliness" questioned in that manner.
A comment I hear has to do with: "You could never love a child as much if you didn't give birth to him."
Frankly, I could not love Benjamin more had I birthed him myself. xoxo

ShanaRose said...

Dear Laura,

I've been wanting to reply to you since you left this comment and I'm glad I finally can tonight.

I agree, you're not a maiden and not a crone. (You're whatever you think you are!) I'm with you, I don't think that a woman in her midlife remains a "maiden" simply because she's never given birth (or adopted, or step parented). I think these archetypal stages are stereotypes, not true for everyone. I think they also point to signs that are in conjunction with age and I totally believe that you as old as you feel.

In my post I wonder what events or internal shifts would occur to make a woman, who is a not a mother, feel she's transitioning from her younger self. My good friend has been writing a series, called Haikus for Adulthood, from this very perspective. I don't know what she thinks about becoming a mother, but she is commenting on what it is to her to become an adult woman.

I think the comment you mention having heard is a ridiculous comment that would be uttered by some one angry, thoughtless, or maybe spiteful. I wouldn't say such a thing because I disagree. Blood does not a parent make, that's for damn sure.

So, please be sure in knowing I was not questioning yours, or any other woman's, womanliness. Knowing that gender and experience are unique to every individual, I would rather know a person's story about growing and maturing than pretend I do; which is why I wonder.

Much Love and warmth,