My kids are away. In just a day, I went to a Feldenkrais workshop, sat and talked to two women I met there, taught a yoga class, drank wine with a friend on a creekside patio, painted one wall of my son’s room, explored talks and articles online. I feel expanded, whole, peaceful.
The thought creeps in – it sometimes does: What would life be like if I didn’t have kids? Time to meditate and read, unfolding into quiet and focus. I could backbend more deeply, quote from more books, eat more cleanly. It’s easy to imagine myself as a much calmer, less stretch-marked, serene and learned woman. And yet is that who I’d be?
This week someone I encountered through work was rather ungracious in a meeting. “She needs to have kids,” was my first reaction — which was an ungracious thought on multiple levels. Really, it was shorthand for: This woman needs to have her schedule revolve around someone else for a few days – or weeks, or years. She needs to answer two questions at once while tying a shoe and trying to open a jam jar. She needs to keep a dog she doesn’t entirely want – and walk him and feed him and pay for his bills – because others have fallen in love with him. Give of yourself … let your hearten soften and your expectations both rise and fall in dramatically important ways.
Spiritual Mama part beams proudly at this thought. Exhausted Mama part wonders: But isn’t that exact giving — of time, energy, emotion — what leaves you feeling malnourished?
“Why am I doing this?” I remember asking a friend when I was pregnant?
“What do you want?” he asked.
“Enlightenment,” I half joked.
“You could climb Mt. Everest,” he said. “Or you could do this.” He gestured to my belly.
I get this. Hugely. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder at my children. Even in their foulest moods – or mine! – there is at least a moment of recognition of their roles as teachers in my life – reminders of beauty, awakeners of compassion. This part of me has been awake for twelve years. Less available has been time for me to sit with own mind and heart, exploring their contours not in snatched moments but in expansive reverie. …Reverie that is only available to me through motherhood.