On Motherhood, Marriage, and the Metaphysical
This article, by Elisha Pidcock, is the first in our guest writers series.
When I was child of about eleven or twelve, deep in the throes of the excruciatingly awkward phase now deemed “tween,” I was staying with a family friend who was pregnant with her second child. I had grown accustomed to staying with Julie and helping her keep her two year old daughter occupied. One evening, Julie, sitting next to me on her sofa, turned to me with a very somber expression. She then lifted the shirt covering her bourgeoning belly to reveal a large amount of creeping blue veins and stretch marks. She warned me that this is what would happen to me if I were ever to become pregnant, so I must be very careful. The somber look faded as I asked if I could touch her belly and if she could feel the baby moving inside. Something about the way with which she spoke of her unborn child told me that, despite the strained appearance of her stomach, she wasn’t very upset about this— because the baby inside meant so much more.
Shortly after this experience, I was anointed with womanhood. From the moment of my first menstruation until I reached adulthood, I was in a state of perpetual warning against becoming pregnant. It was a fear I carried for many years. It casted a fog over my longing to someday have children. I buried my longing and carried on.
I married young, against some of the advice of those who wish well for me. Marriage is a big deal, no doubt about it. It is an extraordinary privilege that is not meant for everyone.
Going into it, I knew that as time went on, we both would change in our own ways. I knew that the path we were following together wasn't always going to be as wonderful as when we first started up on it, that it would take work and compromise at times. I was scared and nervous, but I was also madly in love with someone who created a new person out of me, a new path, a new life. Dennis introduced me to unconditional love, security, reliability. He was the first reprieve I ever had from the anxiety I was fraught with, as a result of my unstable childhood. He made me feel as though no matter what twists life threw at us, that everything would be okay because we would grow together. I knew that he was somebody I needed in my life for a myriad of reasons and 4 years later I still feel that way.
While the nauseating, dizzying ~honey moon period~ love has faded, for those who are lucky, love morphs into something new, more mature, less dizzying, but more anchored. I call myself fortunate find that our love is very much that way. Dennis is my best friend, my family, my grounding force, my true north. It is with him that I have built the foundation of my life upon. I feel now, as I did then, that I need him to be the best version of me. The rest is up to me, but I know that as long as I have him by my side that I have the stability and support I need to make the rest happen.
There is a stigma surrounding marrying young, marriage in general. It has been engrained in many of my generation that divorce is the most likely outcome of any marriage: that people leave, that people cheat, that in the end you will hurt. This is a result of watching so many of the generation who birthed us get married flippantly and divorce with passionate rage, or worse yet without much of a care at all, moving on to the next spouse and repeating (basically) the same life over again. Many of us 90’s and millennial babies come from blended families, divorced parents. We have been raised to stay guarded. This hasty glimpse of marriage detracts from the true beauty of marriage. It is remarkable and immensely comforting, the act of building a life together. There’s a certain strengthening quality in making a promise to stick around and follow through. It is a commitment that isn’t suitable for all people. It is deeply selfless, sacrificial; an amorphous entity. It is a labour of love from which you reap what you sow.
One night in early autumn of our 22nd year, as what was unquestionably the most confusing, enthralling summer of our life together (deep in the midst of our cloying, exhilaratingly suffocating honeymoon period) came to a close, I found myself waking up from the most bizarre and thought provoking dream I’d ever had. In the dream, I found myself faced with a group of unearthly, silvery figures who simultaneously gestured to a nearby room and told me that “she” had something ready for me in the room. I walked into the room to find another unearthly being, much more human than the last, but with a mysterious ethereal quality. She sat on a bed holding a tiny baby, bundled tight. The being turned her face to me to ask the question, “
Are you ready?
” to which I replied that I was, indeed, ready; albeit for what I did not fully know. As she handed the baby to me, the room suddenly vanished, morphing into a vast wasteland strewn with detritus. I frantically searched for my baby only to find that my dream baby had passed, leaving behind only a hollow corpse. As suddenly as the room had vanished, it reappeared. It was warm and light, filled with love. The being was there again and at last I could see both her face as well as the face of my baby. The feminine being gave me an omniscient smirk as she passed the baby to me. I felt an immense electricity run between us, from my heart to my baby's as I stared into a face that was the perfect mix of my husband and I.
Shortly after this dream,
I found out that I was pregnant with my dear, sweet Ryenne.
The day after Ryenne was born, we discovered that she had a heart defect called
. She was thrust away in a helicopter after we’d only spent one night with her, in order to treat her at a larger facility with a full staff of cardiac specialists. We knew little to nothing about the defect or its severity at the time. As in the dream, my baby had been taken away, just as the first promise of her had been given to me. This is still the most devastating test of strength I had ever experienced. I now understand the full meaning of the dream I’d had.
It was the most metaphysical experience I’ve ever had; a strangely clairvoyant glimpse into the biggest milestone of my life.
It is true that you should make sure that you have a good foundation in life before having children. It is a huge responsibility as well as a test of will and selflessness, but the daunting idea that having a child ruins your life is not correct. At least, it certainly hasn’t been for me. It is true that parenthood consumes you, but like most labours of love, you get out what you put in and the reward outweighs the cons of the job. From the moment this terrifyingly tiny, vulnerable, beautiful creature is placed into your arms, it is your job to make sure that they stay safe, happy, comfortable, loved, nurtured, and educated. The list goes on. It is a job, if a severely undervalued one, because it is work— but it is entirely a labour of love; that of which the payout is a healthy, happy, well-functioning adult who (if you do it right) will give to you the invaluable gift of taking part in their life.
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have
ever done; it is a far, far better rest
that I go to than I have ever known." ~Charles Dickens
Motherhood will chew you up and spit you out. It will make you question everything you know about yourself and the world around you. Ryenne has taught me an immeasurable deal about life and myself in just the two years in which I’ve been blessed to be in her life (three if you count her gestation, which I do). Every day is a journey in who I am, who I need to be for her, and how I can get there. My entire state of mind changed from the moment she entered this world, with a bang, through my dreams. I feel as though I am possessed of two lives: pre-Ryenne and post. I can never return to who I was. I can only move forward, mindfully, meaningfully and lovingly, figuring out how to fulfill my dreams all while setting the framework for Ryenne to fulfill hers.