Motherhood and mortality
In my last agony aunt column I spoke about one of the Kleshas (the obstacles that prevent us from achieving union with the divine) and this particular klesha translates as fear of death or more accurately, clinging to bodily life.
I’m on retreat this weekend and in my blissful spare time I am reading a book called ‘Welcome to Your New Life’ by Anna Goldsworthy. I’m halfway through and have so far travelled through her pregnancy and the first six weeks of her babies life. It brings back so many memories of that very early time of motherhood. Things I have forgotten in the short year or so that has passed since then. But the last chapter I read stopped me short.
In it Anna describes a weekend away with her partner and baby of only six weeks. In their holiday home they find a composting toilet. For the rest of the weekend Anna is terrified that either she or her partner will drop the baby down the composting toilet. I’m obviously not doing the book justice here. So to all Mums out there, read it, Anna’s writing is witty, intelligent and full of truth.
However this chapter and the irrational fear in it brought back so many memories of those early days for me. The days when I googled every bump and mark that appeared on Cyclone Franks small, perfect and oh so vulnerable body. The days when I fretted about our flight to England when Frank was just four months old, scared of the germs onboard and worse, terrorists onboard waiting to take me and my baby down. The day when Frank caught his first head cold and I stay awake all night (and I wasn’t getting much sleep anyway) to make sure he didn’t suffocate in his own snot.
But here’s the thing that stopped me in my tracks. It hasn’t really stopped. In a way its got worse. In four short days Cyclone Frank and his Dad will be flying to England and I will be here alone for ten days before I join them. I’m going to share with you now the things that occupy my brain, my stupid brain:
Germs onboard their flight
That Buttons will forgot to feed Frank and he’ll be starving (FYI this has NEVER happened)
That Frank may get a terrible cold in the ten days in England without me and Buttons won’t think to check his temperature and give him panadol so my baby will be in pain for days (again, I need to say this has never happened, Buttons is a very hands on father)
That something will happen to my plane and Frank will grow up without a Mama
That this bump/bruise on the side of my head maybe something more sinister that will stop me flying and joining my boys on the other side of the world
I. Kid. You. Not
I have never been here before. This acute awareness of my own mortality and of the mortality of my boys. Then this ridiculous anxiety as a result of this awareness. Oh yes, I am clinging to life folks. I am clinging harder than I’ve ever clung before. All the bullshit in the above dot points comes down to this. I cannot ever die and leave my child, he cannot ever die and leave me. Fact.
My friend Eli describes motherhood as ‘walking through life with your heart outside your body’ which is so absolutely spot on.
I have never been more challenged and exhausted in my life. I have never loved harder in my life.
So Patanjali…I guess I won’t be achieving union with the divine in this lifetime but I will have experienced the greatest love I have ever known and so I’m happy to go through the roundabout of rebirth a few more times rather than sacrifice that.
And now back to worrying about this flight…