And After Birth, Comes Life…

What???  I’ve only been a mother for SIX WEEKS???  That’s ridiculous.  Ridiculous because it feels so perfectly natural, like I’m finally dancing to a song that has been playing in my heart the whole time!  And ridiculous also, because if you ever want to fall off the space-time continuum, you should care for a fresh baked baby twenty-four seven.

Serena is my tootsie roll center.  There is no cumbersome, crusty candy shell to contend with.  Just chocolatey, chewy goodness.  Not that I even like tootsie rolls… but from a technical, and strictly artistic standpoint, I feel that it was a sound choice for an opening sentence to a paragraph about my feelings toward my heaven-sent daughter.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s not always quite as “tender and mild” as the Baby Jesus… and as Bala Krishna, I have not seen the entire universe swirling from within her wide, open mouth… But I HAVE seen it from within her bright, omniscient eyes.  For sure.  She might not be Webster’s definition of “perfect”, but she sure is MINE.  I can finally fathom how mothers can get totally lost in the care of their children, forget themselves, and ultimately have a crisis when their child flies the coop, and they are left to go about their business, of which they abandoned decades ago.  Not that I’m going to do that… I’m just saying, I can SEE how it happens.

Like I said in my birth story, I somehow had a premonition that the excruciating rite of giving birth was just the beginning… of a long stream of birthing myself into new dimensions, facing many burning challenges and ultimately opportunities to yoke my own Wonder Woman-ness.  Boy was that an accurate supposition!  Six weeks in, I feel that my hormones are balancing out swimmingly.  But week two, week three, week four… I shed plenty more than a baker’s dozen over-ripe-summer-fruit tears over how in the Lord’s holy name I was going to do this by myself.  Especially the earning money part.  (Though I must clarify, that to Baby Daddy’s credit, he IS contributing… He’s not behaving at all like wormy trailer trash… But I am still left with an impressive, yet surmountable financial responsibility.)  Yes, the fear of not being able to “make ends meet” haunted me like a serial rapist, whispered incessantly inside me like curdled elevator music, as I went about the sacred work of nurturing and nourishing my Tiny Goddess.

But today, I am not afraid.  Mostly.  Well, okay, maybe a LITTLE afraid.  But fear is certainly not the lead singer in the band of my current cocktail of nuanced notions of reality.  She is such a silky back-up vocalist, you hardly even notice her.  Why?  Because I have witnessed opportunities to earn, rise out of thin air, and even more miraculous, witnessed myself say YES, and fulfill on them.  After bearing witness to the deluge of grace that poured on us durning my pregnancy, and I mean DELUGE, I had little doubt that God would provide… What I doubted was that I would rise to meet God half way, and do MY part…  I totally trusted the Universe “at large”… but my own will felt flimsy.

Ultimately, I declare that I am finally going to stalk, corner and KILL my soul-sourced dream to be a writer.  By the Grace of God, I was offered a job ghost writing a blog for a woman photographer, whose impassioned mission is to help women awaken to our deepest, inside-out beauty! (http://shephotography.com/blog/)  But that makes for a less dramatic adventure on the page… (though it totally deserves my energy, attention and outcries of “Hallelujah”!)

But today’s adventure on the page is a candid peak at the humbling and arduous climb up the majestic mountain of my destiny.  Doesn’t every writer have harrowing and heroic tales of trials, sacrifice and triumph that preceded their ever-so-sweet success?

I was offered a job cleaning the guesthouse at the Crystal Hermitage.  My first thought was somethin’ like “Nah, I don’t want to be a baby-wearing maid.”  But thoughts two through one hundred and eight convinced me that I ought to give it a try, since I DO have rent to pay… The worst thing that could happen would be that I decided it wasn’t for me, and I could graciously bow out.  In fact, as a result of this opportunity, I made a new policy here in Athena Graceland, that I will try things THREE times, before I say yay or neigh (gulp).  This is a stretch for me, who is notorious for obsessively playing scenarios out in my head, without ever encountering them in real time… and hence, spending a crippling amount of time cowering in the shadows of my life.  So, FOR SERENA, I adopted this expansive practice.  Number one, I want to be a good example for her of being IN THE GAME.  And number two, I can’t afford the luxury of living in the warped world of my imagination, when I have a child to support.

The first two times I cleaned the guesthouse, she slept through the whole experience, fastened to my front in her womb-esque baby carrier.  And like a tightrope walker who inadvertently misplaces her reverence for gravity, I dabbled in cockiness.  But it didn’t last much more than two days… the next time I cleaned, the guests had left the place especially messy, and my notions of “blessed” adopted a vastly different face.  I quickly feasted on a fresh, steaming slice of humble pie.  Imagine me, baby clad, squeezing into the narrow space between bed and wall, to secure a clean fitted sheet– a job that would seem easy-breezy to the unencumbered among us… but now it was calling upon the sum of my agility, knowledge of geometry, good humor and grace.  Even with the deep concentration and piercing intention of a himalayan yogi, I failed!  Her head plummeting sideways one too many times, Serena stirred and fussed and then endeavored to free herself from the suddenly not-so-soothing captivity on my front.  Bounce and shush her as I would, she was determined that it was indeed time for some focused attention and fine dining.  Sigh.

Sometimes (often), having an agenda, while caring for a baby is the root of all suffering.  I inwardly cursed and suffered from the depths of my being for a few decadent minutes… and then I reminded myself that one of the reasons I had been offered this job, was that I could do it at my own pace.  I could stop and nurse my little tootsie roll center as needed, and then get back to the hallowed business of dusting and scrubbing.  There really was no reason to suffer… other than for the sheer delight of it!  What finish line was I impossibly scrambling toward, like a bristling, frothy-mouthed dog strangling herself at the taught end of a sturdy tether?  I really had no pressing engagements to attend to.  Only the leisurely beautification of this sanctuary at the edge of a forest valley, and the eternal, devoted care of the daughter that I begged God for from the purest depths of my soul…

Ok.  Downshift.  Serena suckled passionately on my juicy boob for about half an hour, and then I resumed the grinning business of bed-making.  When Serena has a warm, full belly, she is all charismatic shine and smiles.  I nestled my beaming bundle in the cloud of comforter fluff on the floor, and enjoyed the ecstatic ease of making a bed unencumbered.  Occasionally, I’d drink in the vision of my little Serene Bean, cooing, flailing her tiny arms, kicking her legs, and flashing gummy grins, and I’d brim with bliss that fueled my mundane mission.

It was not too long before she began to fuss again.  I put her back in her sling, and to my great relief, she easily fell asleep again.  She continued to sleep as I dusted, scrubbed the toilet, scoured the bathtub, vacuumed (I kid you not!), scrubbed linoleum floors on my hands and knees… All the while I mused on my years of persistent spiritual practice.  Twisting my body into sacred shapes, while breathing magnificently deep, calling God’s names, as nimble fingers fondled strands of beads, endeavoring to find Silence behind the wallpaper of thoughts that line my mind…

And now, here I was, doing what felt to me like REAL spiritual practice.  The labor of love.  The exponentially challenging act of performing the most simple tasks with a small holy one strapped to my body, in the name of “providing for our family”.  Offering my energy and attentive care to a resplendent retreat, where people come to bask in peace and serenity.  I marveled at how doing everything with a constantly needy little human in tow is ten times harder, yet a bazillion times more meaningful and satisfying. (Even as I type this, she suckles at my breast and intermittently demands my full attention.  Some of it, this sentence for example, was even typed with one hand!!)  I quietly smiled as I began to write this piece in my head, delighting in my thirst to portray my existence in a way that might be of value to your sprawling, valiant soul’s journey.

God, I hope I’m not eeking out a living cleaning houses for a living for the rest of my life!… or even the rest of the year… But for now, I offer myself to the path that is opening before my mostly graceful, slender, surrendered feet.  I believe that one can do ANYTHING with love, presence and devotion, and that alone IS the meaning.  And paradoxically, I also believe that I have a calling to live out loud.  To be big, bold, passionate, poetic, creative and courageous… AS MY SERVICE TO YOU.

God please continue to guide and bless me, that I shall gently become the woman of my dreams, thriving in joy and wealth and creative expression in service of ALL.

Amen.

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