Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Self

When I look at this photo, I can see that my eyes look really tired. I remember this night vividly. Io was only 10 days old and I decided to present her to the world at an art show benefit for a friend who was ill. As my girlfriend and I pulled up to the venue, I could see folks hanging around outside. Some were smoking and others were wearing short dresses and high heels--not exactly a baby-friendly environment. While I really wanted to turn around and go home, I still found myself walking toward the bright lights. People at the door gladly helped me get Io into the space, which lacked an entrance that could accommodate her brand new stroller. After warm greetings and new baby oohs and aahs dissipated, I noticed that the music was pounding and probably too loud for newborn ears. I strolled her into a quiet corner, sipped my wine, looked around and thought, “What I am doing here?”
Photo by: Malakhi Simmons

Looking at this photo I see a mother who doesn’t yet realize how drastically her life is going to change. I thought I was going to be that superhuman mama that travelled the world and worked on exciting, new projects while carrying her baby in a sling. That’s not quite what happened. Since Io’s birth, I’ve held myself to this impossible standard and have lived mostly in disappoint for my lack of Wonder Woman-like powers and limited ability to accomplish multiple tasks with only two regular arms. Today, on my birthday, I give all that mamahood baggage a proper burial. I dig a deep hole and gently lower into it all the expectations I had that never became so. I stand over them, say a prayer, and send them on their way. I put them to rest so that new flowers may grow. I accept the mothering experience that is mine and whole. In its imperfection, it is perfect.

My first instinct to abandon the art show was the right one. In more ways than not, that was no longer my world. I didn’t realize that then. The girl in this picture is still holding on to life up top. She has not yet been initiated into the underground forest, where only women who have gone through a great death are allowed to enter. I have struggled for 4 years now, not wanting to succumb to the death of my life above ground. So today I bury my old self and embrace metamorphosis.