As we approach U.S. Independence Day and I continue to work through the Womanrunes course, some themes of interdependence emerge. There is so much strength in interdependence or being in-dependence together. How do we balance the twin forces of separation and connection?
For me, I spend a LOT of time in direct connection with my immediate family. It is rewarding, but I also crave time alone. I am introvert and I need time alone to restore my soul! The Two Circles remind me that I need to carve out the solitude my soul needs for restoration and renewal—and, I need to stop apologizing for that. I’ve cobbled together a solution of sorts, that in itself is an illustration of balancing the twin forces, in that when my baby takes his nap, I retreat with him to my bedroom. I sit next to him while he naps (he wakes up otherwise!) and write, work, and sometimes I even journal and read and make art. I usually set up a mini altar on the bed next to my laptop–sculpture, stones, salt lamp, cards. It isn’t “perfect,” but it is what sacred space looks like for me right now. Most of the course was developed while sitting next to a sleeping baby or even nursing the sleeping baby and typing with one hand! I’ve come to see this intensive time of baby-mothering as a peaceful sabbatical, rather than a denial of myself/what I need.
When we reaching the Two Circles in the course, I felt stressed at the beginning of the day—torn between the needs of kids, baby, students, myself. I was fretting over this seemingly eternal struggle for “balance” and criticizing myself with an old, tiresome story of not being a good person, what’s wrong with me, etc. I decided to listen to some old saved voice recordings from my Woodspriestess experiment that I never transcribed. Interestingly, the first one I listened to (from 2012) was practically verbatim the “tape” that was replaying for me at that moment–balancing the needs of connection with the need for solitude, separation, and independence. And, interpreting my own, legitimate need for time and space on my own, through the lens of being “selfish” or somehow inauthentic as well as not being able to meet everyone’s needs for my attention and time. I told my husband about this and he said: “how old was Alaina then?” I paused and realized that she was almost exactly the same age Tanner is now. Suddenly, we realized that this sensation is probably related to having an eight month old baby, rather than a personality “defect” to be corrected! It was actually really freeing then to realize this is not a new experience, but is situational.
(Body paint is left over from our summer ritual on July 1, but it decided to hang around just a little longer to give me another reminder!)
My favorite quote about the concept of existing in the context of relationship comes from another of Christ’s books, She Who Changes:
“[According to] Martin Buber, there can be no ‘I’ without a ‘thou,’ no self apart from relationship. Martin Buber said that before speech is developed, the hand of the infant reaches out for its mother (or other nurturer).’ In other words, before Descartes could formulate a thought, and certainly before he knew that he thought, he reached out his hand in relationship. The existence of the other is as certain as the existence of the self. Long before infants learn to speak, they come into relationship with others besides the mother, and with the physical world, with cribs, toys, sunbeams, shadows of leaves blowing in the wind. The existence of a world and the existence of others can be doubted only by someone who imagines that he or she could exist apart from relationships. According to process philosophy, a person who imagines he has no relationships is to be pitied-or committed to a mental institution. His thoughts on this matter certainly should not have become the foundation of modern western thought.” (Christ, 74)
Today, we reached the Crowned Heart, Rune of Unconditional Love. I knew right away this morning what this rune was going to remind me about. I think that the most unconditional love I’ve experienced is from my babies TO me. I’ve never been loved so intensely wholeheartedly as my babies love me. I know that might sound weird and that we think of parents as the ones having unconditional love for their babies, not vice versa, but the depth of the mother-baby attachment is extremely profound and incomparable. It is also feels so simple and uncomplicated. I had the same depth of attachment with all my children, but with each one I feel more aware of how short-lasting this period of intensity is and I just love how much my baby loves me. While we’ll always love each other deeply, right now we are a motherbaby—a single psychobiological organism and there just isn’t anything else like it…
Let’s celebrate in-dependence together!