“Let us initiate our daughters into the beauty and mystery of being strong and confident women who claim their right to give birth and raise their children with dignity, power, love, and joy.” –Barbara Harper
I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately to make more birthing mama sculptures, so I spent some time on Sunday sculpting up a new crew of them!
You know how they say that birth art is as real, messy, raw and spontaneous as birth itself? Well, this birth artist doesn’t always gallivant around in the snow with tiny, empowered art pieces. Instead, sometimes I post things like this on Facebook: my toddler has been screaming because she wants to, “make a blue doddess RIGHT NOW” and when the sole cheerful sibling in the house attempted to make one for her she said, “it ball of poop” and squished it in the pasta roller. Ahhh. This is the life…
“Rigid plans work best if you’re building a skyscraper; with something as mysteriously human as giving birth, it’s best, both literally and figuratively, to keep your knees bent.” –Mark Sloan, MD (Birth Day)
I recently read an article about spirituality and birth that is going in my dissertation work file:
“She remembers one devout Catholic who birthed holding rosary beads. Propped up on the bed, this mom-to-be rocked and hummed softly during contractions. During her home birth—which lasted only a few hours—she gazed at the three-foot-tall statue of the Virgin Mary in her room. “I felt I was in the palm of the Virgin Mary,” the mother explained to Vincent afterward. “She was protecting me.”
It is not a particular religious denomination that helps women have enjoyable, vaginal, and medication-free childbirths. Rather it is the belief that their bodies are doing what they’ve been made to do and that they are connected to something higher—be that God, the spirit, the universe, or even an awareness of women in the past who have given birth before them…”
My first ever miscarriage sculpture when up on etsy this week too. While, I made one like this for myself last year, I’ve never made one for sale until this week. This past week actually marked the fourth anniversary of my second miscarriage. When I took my photo of the new sculpture out in the snow, I reflected that this is how I felt after my second miscarriage–cold and alone. Trying to stand steady and find my ground, even though I felt as if my legs had been kicked out from under me…
This is part of what I originally wrote about that experience:
I just want to say two things again:
I do NOT want people to feel sorry again for me so soon.
I feel DUMB
I do not feel like I am handling this well or with strength. I just feel numb and dumb and done and done for. I am bottoming out right now. Bottom. Pit. Despair.
It is hard for me to read this again, to type it out, and to remember these feelings. It still feels strange or confusing to me about how Noah’s birth was “easier” for me to cope with emotionally—even as it was the most fundamental and profound grief I’ve ever experienced, it was clean. It felt meaningful. It also had a distinct physical, embodied connection via having given birth to him. The second miscarriage felt like being kicked while I was down and being erased.
This time of year, the first week of February, is when I have a personal tradition of taking a week-long computer off retreat. Even though I felt the same call to retreat this year, I didn’t do it. I’m not ruling out the possibility of still getting to do so because February isn’t over yet, but I reached the point where I realized it was stressing me out more to feel like I “should” be planning a retreat than it was not to do it. Since we planned our business launch to start on February 1st, it also just didn’t make practical sense to suddenly disconnect at exactly the same time! What I did do was a family ritual on February 1st and also I did a single-day “email off retreat” that was really amazing. I would like to make that a regular part of my week, perhaps every Wednesday or something.
The merry-go-round of work never stops. There will always be more work than we can handle, more emails than we can ever manage, more projects to juggle. It’s up to us to heed our inner calling, whether that voice is saying, “You’re starving creatively … you can’t keep pushing, your body can’t do this anymore … if you look at one more email, your mind will explode … or, you have got to slow down and rest,” and take action.
This reminded me of two past posts about the classic memoir, Gift from the Sea:
“With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls–woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
Even though she wrote the book in the 50’s, the sense of fragmentation and balancing that many mothers today experience was her experience as well…
For life today in America is based on the premise of ever-widening circles of contact and communication. It involves not only family demands, but community demands, national demands, international demands on the good citizen, through social and cultural pressures, through newspapers, magazines, radio programs, political drives, charitable appeals, and so on. My mind reels in it, What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head. Baby-carriage, parasol, kitchen chair, still under control. Steady now!
This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of. It leads not to unification but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace, it destroys the soul. And this is not only true of my life. I am forced to conclude, it is the life of millions of women in America. I stress America, because today, the American woman more than any other has the privilege of choosing such a life. ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on the household navigation of being an introvert mama with now having my also-introvert husband home full-time. Turns out that both parents home doesn’t magically extend the hours in a day (actually seems to shorten them) and it means both parents end up feeling pretty maxed out by kids and in need of somewhere quiet to recharge! ;) I love having a “free-range” husband and I’m blown away by our joint creativity, which is an energy we’ve never experienced before at this level in our 19 year relationship because he was always at work all week and we had to squeeze everything else in around the edges. I also notice these interesting facts about having us both home all of the time: the house is way messier, we consistently stay up “too late” and sleep “too late,” it seems harder than ever to cook/figure out meals, we have less time to spend on homeschooling (!!), we still don’t feel like we have enough time to talk to each other, I seem to have less time to write and focus on writing, I feel like I give my kids less attention than I did when I was the only at-home parent (because I now have Mark to pay attention to too and I really like him), it is perhaps harder than ever to get the TWO HOURS I desperately need, I feel as if I have less time to focus on my teaching work, we argue more over household and parental responsibilities, we laugh way more and have more fun with each other and with our kids and we do more spontaneous, relaxed and fun stuff with our kids. It has been an interesting experience!
Related reads on introvert parenting:
I hate that as a mother, I felt like I had to choose between caring for my child and caring for myself. Because really, I can choose both. I can teach my kids—by example, which is perhaps the most potent way of teaching—that they are worthy of listening to their own needs. To the quiet, sure voice that might tell them they need a break. To lie on a yoga mat and sink deep into their own body and breath. To wander through a cemetery, alone, slowly enough to read the names on the gravestones. To sit down and write about how they’re feeling, or to surrender to sweet sleep for an hour.
So, sometimes when I start feeling ragged and can’t put my finger on exactly why, it comes to me: “I WANT MY TWO HOURS!”
Toddlerhood and Beyond—Oh dear, now is when “no time to think” starts to wear on Introverted Mama’s nerves and stamina. I’ve met some awesome mothers of large families who comment on how they, “love the chaos” of home with lots of children. “Our house is wild and crazy and full of noise and I love it,” they may be known to say. Thinking of how desperately I crave silence and solitude, sometimes with an almost physical pain and longing, I feel inadequate in comparison to these declarations. Is this too simply a function of personality? Can these chaos-thriving mamas be extroverts who gain energy from interaction with others? I find that my own dear children, my own flesh and blood and bone and sweat and tears, still feel very much like “company” in terms of the drain on my energy that I experience. Whether it is socializing with a group or friends or spending the day with my energetic, loveable, highly talkative children, I crave time alone to recollect myself and to become whole once more. I once commented to my husband that I feel most like a “real person” when I’m alone. That means that the intensiveness and unyielding commitment of parenting can be really, really hard on me emotionally. Maybe it is okay to “own” that need for quiet, even as a mother, rather than to consider it some type of failure or an indication of not being truly cut out for this motherhood gig. (See more in a past, lengthy, navel-gazing post on why I need my “two hours”.)
How do you experience (and honor) introversion in your life as a parent? Sometimes I feel like being an introvert and being a mother are not very compatible, but as I learn to respect my own needs, to speak up for myself, and to heed that call for silence and solitude, I realize it is compatible after all. My children have two introverted parents and will hopefully grow up feeling confident in the knowing that there is profound power in being quiet, in taking time to think deeply, and to respond to the call of solitude if it comes knocking at the door of their hearts.
I was looking through a new women’s circle curriculum I bought a couple of months ago that is about “becoming women of wisdom.” It is for older women and it takes your through a journey from your teens through your 60’s and beyond. Each “lesson” is illustrated with a drawing for that life stage. This is the illustration for “Remembering Our Thirties”:
Finally, cycling back around to birth art, next up on our month-long launch-month giveaway agenda is one of our brand new womb labyrinth pendants! To enter, just click on the labyrinth picture below to go to the Facebook contest. As a special bonus, I’m holding a “secret” companion giveaway via this blog! For an entry to win one of our tree of life pendants, go like our new Brigid’s Grove Facebook page and then leave a comment here letting me know you did so. Double chance to win a prize from us this week! :)
Also, there is still time to get our free Ritual Recipe Kit! (just sign up for our newsletter).