Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Photography 04/24/2010

My Days

Thanks to my son for being such a good sport through all the photos. More to come.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Motherhood Means to Me

Nearly five years ago, quite unexpectedly, in a bathroom of an unbecoming apartment, in a town of even less appeal, the little stick just barely removed from that thin yellow stream showed a tiny pink plus sign. I thought my life was over. In horror I sat on that toilet, weighing out my options. I can't remember how I told my then boyfriend (now husband), whether I walked slowly and nauseously toward him, or whether I ran out to him in a panic, but I do know that I wasn’t happy.

11 years before the first time, and 10 years before the second, I had given birth to two children. I was full of life in those days… but completely na├»ve to the responsibilities of parenting children. I was 17 when my first parenting expedition began. I loved those children more than life but had no idea how to care for them. Neglect and addiction ripped them from my arms. In the wake of my lack of love for myself and my underestimation of the necessary job skills, I had no real love, as an action, to give those children. I committed the most loving action I could, and that was to give them up. Years later that choice would haunt me, and although right at the time, the child that was soon to be born, 11 years later, would both heal that choice, and still further the pain of what those children had stolen from them. I did the best I could do then.. but more importantly, will live a lifestyle of greater worth today, being available should they ever embark toward the passage through my door again.

Life after the adoptions grew increasingly worse. Addiction took its toll on me and I lunged head first toward the concrete wall of self induced disease. I was lost. Rehabs, hospitals, night clubs, and many more endings than beginnings promised that death would be my conclusion. That was until I found Alcoholics Anonymous.

When the small plastic stick proved pregnancy, I had two years sober. I was no more ready to have a child than I was to be the CEO of Microsoft. But something told me this was ‘it’ for me. This was my chance. I was standing at the crossroads of my life, asking myself ‘if not now, then when?’. There were no more drugs or fruitless encounters with men. There was far less evidence of self destruction. There was alas a man who although nowhere near perfect, was the kind of man that women don’t run from, they run towards. There were no more excuses. Another abortion would mean a conscious choice to never heal from the painful memories of my past, but rather the creation of another. I might never forgive myself for giving away the most precious and important people in my life. I would repeat my patterns and what would that mean that I had really learned from all of this? Not much.

I knew what I must do. I must do it for the unborn child. I must do it for the man in my life. I must do it for the healing. I must do it for myself. . that I might know what it is to see a life –a person through to fruition. When I took the narrow, unforeseeable path that led from the crossroad, I did not know what lay ahead. I was terrified, resentful, sickened, and sad. My life had unexpectedly fast forwarded. Once this decision was made, I insisted I not turn back, repeating my past mistakes. I did not have to like it; I just had to do it anyway.

At 28 years old, the body is not nearly as equipped to handle the weight of an unborn child, while holding down a full time job (newly begun), and maintaining a relationship that was not yet matured to begin with, but somehow it made it through. I did everything wrong. I did everything out of order. I have NO idea how it worked; but it did.

My biggest fear was indifference. Would I feel the same fear in the hospital bed, pushing this newly born life from my body and into the scary world? Would I want it? How would I live with myself if he could see my selfishness? How could I ever make him feel worthy and loved if I was unable to love?

My fears were easily vanquished the moment I heard his first cry. I was so sad for him. They placed him quickly on my chest, rushing my husband to cut cord attaching the newborn’s body to mine. And then I held that child like no one had ever been held. My indifference disappeared with a vengeance. They wiped my child clean, diapered and bathed him, and wrapped him in a warm blanket putting that tiny little stripped hat on his head and then handed him to me. I was ecstatic! I put up the guard rails on my hospital bed and he laid beside me for three days straight. They kept taking him from me and putting him in his bed.. explaining that he could fall. I held him so close to me and I took up so little room just so that he would not. I fell more deeply in love than ever before. .. and I’ve stayed in love ever since.

Nearly five years later, I am a fully employed, married mother. To look at me, you’d never know the story that began this voyage, and that’s how I know I have changed.

My son is the highlight of my life. He is furthering the end of my selfishness. He is proof of what can happen in a life when dedication and commitment meet love and insistence to tolerate less from oneself and expect more. He is the pushing of the envelope. The last rep in an exhausting workout you thought you could never muster the courage to start. There will be no more pussy footing around. Regardless of bleeding feet, I keep walking on the glass to keep proving my love, to keep trudging the road toward loving parenting.

There are many more years ahead of us, I pray. I’m not the perfect parent I hoped to be. Children have a way of knowing just the right thing to say and to drive you to insanity. They climb on the furniture, jump off of the dressers, smear food on the television, the coach, the chairs. They color on the walls, leave hardened hotdogs under the rugs, pee on the sheets, their bed, your bed. They forget to wipe. They refuse to eat almost anything. They know exactly how to find your most sentimental possessions and squash them to smithereens. And all those things you loved so much mean less and less when you realize that you would rather see your child laughing at you for freaking out than for you to keep that stuff anyway. And then there are the smiles.. the funny faces, the poses in pictures that only he loves, the potty training by way of peeing on the Cheerio, the tiny hands hanging up his own clothes for the first time and handing it to you with those big happy eyes saying ‘Look Mommy! Look what I did!’. I couldn’t be happier to have had him.

Yesterday I cleaned out my car. I always promised myself I would never be the kind of mom whose car smelled like McDonalds. Well.. I was wrong… and that’s just fine with me. There were drawings, paintings, glued on candy in the cup holder of his car seat, unidentifiable somethings smeared all over the carpet. .. and most of this within a week of the last time I cleaned it out. There’s just no keeping up with it! (or the housework either!). and who cares about all of that anyway. We’ve got so few years we have to wait for domestic spotlessness; we trade in the fine white furniture for a life of giving to a growing child. And which would we rather have anyway, when it’s all weighed out? I’ll take my wonderful son. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make with my arms fully outstretched.

In truth, I don’t believe my life would hold nearly the value it does today without him. I work harder than I would. I stay stronger. I give up less and less on life. I find more joy. I push myself to go on when I want to sink into depression. I make better decisions. I give more than I ever have.

In short, I want to thank him. So.. thank you son, for changing my life completely. I would give you anything if it meant you would be happier. . more free.. more in love with life. You name it and it’s yours.

One word that describes what motherhood means to me? It means love.

-Astra Allen 04/12/2010