Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Essence

Last week I tried to explain my desire to be a mother to a friend who just buried her father who committed suicide. She was angry and grieving, and she reiterated her intent not to ever have children, because she didn't want to bring another life into her messed up family.

I don't think that motherhood is necessary to every woman, and I try to never attempt to talk someone out of saying they don't want children. I only know why I wanted to be a mother.

My mom was a stay-at-home mom for most of my childhood, but more importantly, her whole heart and being was wrapped up in her children. (For the record, I think that's still possible if a woman works outside the home. They aren't related.) I saw how she loved us and how she thrived off of our returned affection. Other than her faith, we were "it" for her. Her life. Her essence.

I guess part of me just assumed that was what life was about, giving your heart over to your children. I never expected or planned for any other life, so when K said she didn't want children, I couldn't understand, but at least I knew I couldn't understand.

I offered my perspective, and it was interesting for me to frankly think about what I've chosen for my life. Here it is:

My whole reason for being on this planet is to learn how to love better, to experience and live grace and kindness, to live wholly and honestly as much as I am able. By having children, I've brought more opportunities for growth and learning into my life. Through them and the experiences they will have, I'm exposing myself to more trials and tribulations, more joys and successes. I'll learn how to love them fully, and they'll bring people into my life who I will learn how to love as well. I will learn new facets of love through them and with them, and since that's what I imagine life is all about, they are critical to that purpose.

I know life can be lived and lived well without children. It just feels "right" that my path is one with kids. I have no way of knowing if K is meant for children as well, but I do know that it is well within her power to raise children without repeating the mistakes of her parents. Just like I am not fettered to the mistakes of my past, she is not bound to the mistakes of hers.

I bought and read The Shack by William Young yesterday. It was an intense, illuminating experience, and the message reinforced many of the conclusions I had come to on my own. One of them is about forgiveness and moving on.

Early in my life, I experienced some trauma that left me twisted and scarred. It distorted my views on sensuality and who my body belonged to. It fractured my thinking, and I was left incomplete and broken. One afternoon in college, I experienced a relief and healing from that inner hell.

What happened is mine, and I'm not sure I'll ever blog about the details, but I will describe the result. In my mind, I encapsulated all the hurt and violence and trauma I had lived through, and I pulled it from my body. I replaced the resulting emptiness with quiet and peace. Then I took the bottled up hurt and made it a bubble, and I let it float away from me. It popped, and the contents spilled into the atmosphere, instantly diluting and becoming insignificant and just another particle of life's experience, just another molecule in the air. It had no more importance for me than a remembered road trip or a parakeet's name.

The freedom was full and exhilarating, and it's lasted. I found forgiveness and understanding. Everything that came before is gone, and what matters is what I do with my life now.

What I do with my life now is love my children, my husband, and my family. I love my life and the possibilities it holds. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I know that I'll try to live it fully, with peace and joy and humility. I wasn't given a second chance and I wasn't reborn; I simply did what we all have the opportunity to do, begin the new day with acknowledged purpose and grace.