Monday, June 14, 2010

It takes a village

The baby is asleep on my lap. I would love to try to put her down but I don't want her to wake up!

God, I sound like *such* a whiny, ungrateful louse. I know I do. I can't help but wonder, how do people DO this the world over?? Certainly some have easy babies - babies who will sit in strollers or swings, or be carried in a sling through a rice paddy. I definitely didn't get an easy baby. Well... maybe this is just a phase because she seemed somewhat easier in the first few weeks (don't they say fussiness peaks around six weeks?). But some have babies who are harder than mine. I keep thinking about the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" and how true it is in ways that I didn't even consider before. I think about our modern lives and how isolated we are now. How much better it would be to be near family - sisters, parents, aunts - and have the collective help and wisdom of generations. How broken it seems in some sense that in our culture we are all just floating out there like our own little planets.

Adam told me: "I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself..." And he reminds me that no one else in the world could be her parents.

My cousin told me about this book by a Buddhist lady who had a baby, and she talks about when she was in a monastery and a bell would ring every hour to summon them to different activities, the idea being that you surrender yourself to the routine of the monastery as a spiritual practice (achieving a state of zen through denial of self and ego). Having a newborn baby is like that - surrendering yourself to the needs of the baby. If you just accept that state of affairs for now, you can avoid feeling resentful about all the taking, taking, taking.

We have a concept like that in Christianity too - "not my will but Thine be done." Conceptually it is the same thing as the zen Buddhist idea: denying your own desires and having faith and acceptance of the will of a greater power. This is not in contradiction to the idea of free will. We are free to choose, and by grace and discernment can choose to be in harmony with God's will or be in disharmony. Suffering is part of the human condition (as illustrated by the crucifixion) and we have the free will to choose our reaction. To accept that which we cannot control, and to strive for harmony with natural law when we can. Not my will but Thine.

I'm telling you all this because I want you to know that I'm not just sitting here pouting. I realize all the many things that we tell ourselves and each other when going through a rough patch. My rational mind can even assign a spiritual nature to what I'm going through. But the sleep-deprived, hormone-addled parts of my brain win out more often than not these days over my rational self.


katie said...

you don't sound whiny or ungrateful! i think it's good that you have a place to vent and talk about your feelings because i'm sure you're not the first or last to feel every emotion you are feeling. when i have a baby i am sure i will be calling you with all of the same complaints/concerns/feelings.

it really would be nice for our family to be closer together so you would have a village to help you!

Nina said...

Let me second that. You don't sound whiny or ungrateful at all! I think for somebody who is usually pretty level-headed and capable, it is especially hard to find yourself at a loss when you find yourself adrift in a seemingly endless stream of diapers, nursing sessions and wake-ups. On paper it and with that rational part of the brain, it SEEMS like it should be SO MUCH EASIER than it is. And seriously? It was hard when I had my mom and Erik there round the clock too...because you are still the ultimate caregiver and you have the boobs. Don't you wish you could hand those things off to somebody else for a few hours?? :)


And I will third that for you! Let me tell you. None of us would believe you if you said it was easy. You wouldn't be a real person if this new life wasn't overwhelming you. One of my friends has an 8-month old boy...her comment to me a couple months ago was "Is it possible to die from sleep-deprivation?" She laughed while she said it, but I'm pretty sure she was totally serious. You're doing great. And I love reading your true thoughts and emotions, so don't hold back!