Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cracked Open - Part 3

Having a couple days off in Banff. Have been reading blogs all morning - oh, my sisters, my heart is always with you!

Was reading WordGirl at Blood Signs and something occurred to me. She talks about making peace with the love that her stepson can offer her. Not the intensely personal mother/child bond, but another type of love. It inspired something in me. An echo.

When my sister and her family came to visit, her little boy woke up late one night and came down the hallway and snuggled with me and my husband while we watched TV. Eventually, I picked him and he wrapped his 4 year old self around me and I put him back to bed. I loved that feeling. That he was at ease with me, trusted me enough to wrap himself around me as I carried his heavy self back to bed. The hole in me seemed smaller for just a blink of an eye. So soothing to be the one who did that. But it expanded again because I yearned for that type of unconditional love for myself. The one that would silence the "you're not good enough, worthy enough, smart enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, accomplished enough" voice that haunted me. There's this saying we have - "Never seek the Gohonzon outside yourself". I'm sure you can find a similar quote of faith that resonates with you. That's what I was looking for. Something outside of myself.

What I had planned to happen had failed to materialize, depression and infertility had thrown me off kilter, my faith and marriage had taken a beating, and everything in the world seemed to be hellbent on reminding me of what I didn't have. It felt deeply personal and I took it personally. People kept telling me how exceptional I was, yet I was still looking for the rewards, the proof of this. If I was supposed to be happy, then why the hell wasn't I working on a wildly successful TV series and pushing my baby girl down the street with my adored Sampson by my side to meet my gorgeous husband for coffee? Expectations too high? Okay, how about just pushing my baby down the street (no series, no dog) to meet my gorgeous husband for coffee? Okay, at the moment, it's just me and my demented mother meeting my gorgeous husband for coffee.

It occurred to me that my hole that only demands unconditional love in the form of a child says more about the state of my ego than it does about an actual child itself. In a way. Do you know what I mean? I'm sure it's just a part of it, but one I'd like to touch on this. (Cause I have the luxury of time to do this.) I'll just speak for myself though, cause I don't know about anybody else. I hinted at it in my previous posts. The "winning" part of the equation. The "I win, I win!" feeling. It's called rapture in the world of Buddhism. It's short term gratification when one's desires have been achieved. It can still revert back to the world of hunger or hell. The ego craves this exhilaration. Negative pee stick. World of Hell. Positive pee stick. Rapture!

I have no practical experience of how a child would impact my own personal life. Though apparently, I'm on that path come hell or high water. I can imagine, I can intellectualize, I'm not an idiot, I've got eyes, I'm old enough to know that I will cease to be the centre of my demented world (which includes my demented mother). I want to do it because I believe we have a lot to offer a child of this world. I have to admit at one point, because I felt I had truly nothing else WORTHWHILE to accomplish in my life, I figured having a child would give me meaning. Hell, even my husband, at one point said that he wouldn't have brought up his dissatisfaction with me and our marriage HAD WE HAD A CHILD. Because that would have made me the MOTHER of his child. I would have had A JOB, a PURPOSE, a DIRECTION. That would have made me RESPECT WORTHY. These are my caps, not his. I felt rage and disappointment in myself and I hated his guts for a time. He was right. I didn't have any other true purpose, a direction, a passion in my life at that time. I just cruised along in automatic, waiting, waiting, waiting for my miracle to arrive. I certainly didn't have unconditional love for myself. My dog, maybe. I put all my eggs in one basket and my eggs, plenty though they were, didn't want to stick around to turn into a child. I had become a woman of a certain age, prone to depression and bloat. And while I ignored the stones hitting my back, I certainly felt the brick thrown at my head.

I knew that even had that miracle child sprung out of my loins, and he did leave me, I would still have my child. I would have had a noble purpose to cling to. Certainly more noble than taking care of myself. More important. The bond that would never be broken even if my kid grew up, rejected me and took up drugs. I'd still be a MOTHER. Like a universal "sir" or "duchess" or something. A title per se. Satisfying to the ego. And you know how well regarded that title is. Cause if you give up your job to raise your child, you sacrifice your own needs for your child cause it's the most IMPORTANT job in the world, don't ya know, then your life was worthwhile.

Unless you are the type of person voted most likely to find the cure for cancer.

You know, even if you fuck up with your kids, they still love you even if you're a piece of shit. Honestly. You know this is true.

And for those you didn't get that special title, the ego was all too quick to condemn you to the garbage dump. What would happen if I found a new way to define happiness? Would I be a better mother? A better person?


Rachel said...

Before IF I used to think only selfish people didn't want to have kids. Now I think having a kid is the most selfish thing in the world. When people make a comment like it's such a 'wonderful' or 'generous' or 'good' thing that we're trying to adopt, it's almost impossible for them to realize that, really, it's all about selfishness and what I want and need.

But it's still something I cannot give up.

luna said...

this is a perfectly wonderful and thought-provoking post. there is so much here to chew on.

I waver between feeling like the drive to parent is the most selfish or selfless thing to, and I can't decide. do we "win" if he do, and lose or "fail" if we don't? how DO we define happiness? it MUST come from within, and yet we find affirmation in the world around us -- in work, in love, in kids, etc.

I am so offended when people suggest that a life without children has less value. and yet I feel in my heart that I am missing something without. I cannot seem to balance so many of these competing ideas.

loribeth said...

You all make excellent points. People who think that having a child somehow makes them more self-less/morally superior (a) drifve me nuts & (b) are slightly delusional, IMHO. At the same time, as much as I resent them for that attitude, I wish I could be one of them too. How that makes sense, I have no idea.