blog

  • birth plans

    We enter parenting in many ways: by choice and by chance; birthing children, fostering children, adopting children, taking respnsibility for our siblings, our nieces and nephews, our grandchildren, our neighbors... 

    For many of us preparing to give birth, there is a deep desire to enter into the process with some clarity about what we want for ourselves and our babies, with some control, with a plan. But birth doesn't comply with our wishes. 

    A birth plan not going according to plan is an apt introduction to motherhood because the reality of raising a family includes surprises and ultimately letting go of control.

    The New York Times recently published this beautiful illustrated piece on four births, four philosophies, four outcomes. Give it a look.

  • matrescence

    A friend visits with a basket in each hand, her twin sons. She feeds them, changes them, carries them, and lays them down with perfunctory attention. She says, Sometimes I think, “It’s been seven months! Where in the world is their mother?”

    —Sarah Manguso, 300 Arguments (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2017)

    I love this quote. It speaks eloquently to the strange slow shift in identity that comes with mothering, with fathering—the sense that this new life is not your own, but belongs to someone else. It’s distressing, disorienting. And that sense can lead to enormous self-doubt and self-criticism

    And so I’m relieved to know that at last this disorientation is finally being taken seriously—that is to say, that it is being investigated by people who are not sleep-deprived, confused about who they are becoming, too interrupted to make sense of the experience and to hold onto the sense that they make of it. This piece on matrescence--the process of becoming a mother--by Alexandra Sacks, prior to the publication of her book this fall, is part of that exploration. 

     

  • the museum of childhood

    The name of this place is so evocative for me. I think we must all have our own museum of childhood, where broken and beloved toys abide, in rooms full of shadows and beams of might. 

  • listening to fathers

    As parental roles shift, more men are sharing their experiences as fathers. Podcasts devoted to fathering are part of this exploration. The Modern Dads Podcast and Brand New Father Podcast both offer interviews with experts as a means of figuring out what's happening for fathers. At the same time, there's something about the expert focus of these podcasts that tends to diminish the rawness of the experience, and leaves me wanting something more.

    So I mentioned Elisha Cooper recently. He's a children's book author, and wrote a second memoir--better than the first, I think--called Falling: A Daughter, A Father, and A Journey Back (New York: Anchor, 2016)--about the time when, holding his daughter on his lap at a baseball game, he felt a lump under her ribs, and everything changed. His meditation on his own emotional development through the family crisis that ensued is deeply moving. And it's a rare look at the powerlessness that fathers can feel. 

    Either way, it's not all Oedipus and Laius or Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader or any of a number of similarly charged pairings anymore, thank goodness. 

  • beginning again

    Often we worry and wonder about which action to take. Will our actions produce results? Meaningful results? And will they take us to the place we think we want to go? In moments like this, when we are consumed by restless thoughts, it can be helpful to remember this:

    It is the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no results. - Mohandas Gandhi.