I once had a child who sang to me from the middle landing of our back porch steps. It was a numinous, luminous moment that I will never forget.
I once had a baby who was so pissed off that he couldn’t crawl yet.
I once had a child who made up a language of combinations of “ha ha, ho ho, hee hee” and he and his best friend refused to translate.
I once had a child who loved horses.
I once had a child who preferred his father, but it was okay.
I once had a toddler who could tell me his dreams at the age of two.
I once had a child who loved endless stories about Cowboy Curtis and Miss Yvonne.
I once had a teenager who despised me.
I once had a child who said, “Puppy, do you know what it’s like to be human? It’s kind of a job, being alive.”
I once had a child who played harp and composed a song I wish I could hear in my last moments on earth.
I once had a teenager who transitioned, and was accepted and loved by all of us, no matter what.
I once had a child who made me sing “Felice Navidad” for at least two hours, in the style of Charo on Peewee’s Playhouse, to keep him comfortable and tantrum-free during a long car trip.
I once had a baby who barely slept. For years.
I once had a teenager who wrote novels, plays, poems, and music reviews. And who played the roles of Cyrano de Bergerac in his (now ridiculed) Waldorf School and Julius Caesar in a teen Shakespeare productions.
I once had a young adult who showed me silly videos on YouTube.
I once had a child who drew, a lot.
I once had a child/teenager/young adult whose thoughts I respected.
I once had a child who bested his teacher in almost any intellectual exchange.
I once had a young adult who loved the same punk music I’d loved in my twenties.
I once had a baby who rode in a snug baby pouch when I walked to 24th Street in San Francisco. He didn’t dangle like a small insect, facing forwards, like so many other children in other pouches.
I once had a toddler who couldn’t tolerate noisy bunches of kids at his preschool.
I once had a teenager who made fun of me for being short, once he grew taller than me.
I once had a young adult who shared some of his occult interests with me.
I once had a teenager who…
I once had a baby who…
I once had a child who…
I once had a toddler who…
I once had a young adult who…
I once had that someone who once seemed to love me.
Disparaged my children’s choices of partner, appearance, interests, reading matter, media consumption, diet, etc.
Disparaged or objected to my children’s genders, cis or trans.
Been an embarrassing drunk in front of them or their friends (I don’t drink anyway).
Forced them to go hungry or wear dirty clothes, or otherwise lack the resources for health and hygiene.
Tried to seduce my children’s lovers.
Refused to provide books, art supplies, toys, musical instruments, and a range of outside activities when requested.
Pushed my children to be something they weren’t.
Been verbally, physically, or sexually abusive or deliberately harmful in any way.
Not stood up for them if I was aware of something that needed my intervention.
And so forth.
As a parent, I have sometimesbeen:
Over-enthusiastic or not enthusiastic enough.
A willing reader and teller of bedtime stories.
Depressed, suicidal, and exhausted.
Disabled and in need of accommodation.
Old and getting older.
Involved in my own life and self, perhaps overmuch.
In the grip of transformative processes that defied logic.
In love with someone other than my children’s father.
Sometimes intimidated by the anger of adolescence.
Angry and reactive, but not to excess.
All too human.
As a parent, I was always loving and supportive, kind and generous.
As a parent I would have never imagined:
That not being perfect as a parent would result in being ghosted for several months and then told, via a public blog, that my oldest child (an adult) never wants to see or hear from me again.
Essentially, I’ve done nothing reprehensible as a parent or as a human being, to deserve such treatment.
This lack of courage and courtesy, on his part, is somewhat mind-boggling and deeply hurtful. And it’s so very entitled. His accusations of constant “damage” are something that I cannot understand or address, as they ARE left vague and his readers are left to assume the worst. I feel besmirched and wrongfully accused.
Today I celebrate the birth of my firstborn as well as my recent move from California to Oregon. The first represents the birth of another human being, one who is much loved (even if from afar). The second represents my transition into a life that is now entirely mine–free from many of the constraints of gender, partner expectations, prejudices against aging, and other ridiculous impediments to peace and creativity. In this I have followed my fictional Ornamental Hermits, who in the third and fourth books, land in Oregon on the outskirts of Eugene, Oregon, to work their magic and music with the help of Elves and their ancestors, and one very persistent trickster deity. As soon as I empty a few more boxes, put a few more books on the shelve, and hang a few more pictures, I’ll be working again on the first draft of the fourth book.
But getting back to my firstborn, who is all of thirty-two as of today…
It was an easy birth, but a very difficult pregnancy. While I spent eleven weeks on strict bedrest to prevent preterm labor, I was also internally speeding on round-the-clock doses of terbutaline. Anyone who uses terbutaline in an asthma inhaler knows how jittery it can be. Back in 1989, there was no internet that I could use to research the drug so I had only the doctor’s word that the medication was safe. However it is now known to be hazardous to both birthing parent and baby, with potential for neurodevelopmental damage.
From the above article’s abstract:
Terbutaline has been among the most commonly used -adrenoreceptor (AR) agonists in the management of preterm labor. The research suggests that tocolytic terbutaline therapy carries a significant risk for the mother and the child, which can be magnified by extended exposure, sex of the fetus, and administration during critical fetal developmental periods. This paper highlights the research on terbutaline in treatment of preterm labor, along with the possible associated cognitive deficits in adolescents who were treated with terbutaline in utero.
A search of terbutaline’s use in pregnancy (via Google Scholar) yields many peer-reviewed studies of other negative associations on fetal cardiac function and maternal morbidity. There is also a controversy as to whether terbutaline is implicated as a cause of autism in the children. However as a person who is quite likely part of the “broader autism phenotype,” and who sees traits in other family members, I have mixed feelings about this.
The main point is that I spent a good part of my pregnancy on my back in bed, fearing the loss of my baby.
This period was not helped by daily phone calls from my sister, who had discovered (via a visit from the F.B.I.) that her next door rental tenant was wanted for matricide. He’d apparently murdered his mother with a pickaxe back in Pennsylvania, probably for money. I don’t know for sure, but since he was running an underground “women’s wrestling collective” called the Barbary Bobcats. (in San Francisco), had probably spent much too much money as the impresario on wrestling mats, pink and black leather furniture, video equipment, and the like. Once the man was finally apprehended, my sister (as the landlady) had the job of going through his belongings: dirty socks, new watches, vintage cookbooks, Deco endtables actually finished by my husband but purchased via one of those vintage “20th Century Moderne” stores on Market Street. These daily reports were creepy AF, and forced me to consider the possibility that any gestational parent could birth a child who might one day want to kill her/zir/them/him.
So instead of completing my modern Noe Valley pregnancy on my feet like a winner, with healthy strolls down the hill to 24th Street, Japanese Weekend maternity clothes (I’d worked there briefly and had a bunch of factory seconds to wear), and the odd craving for canned apricots with cottage cheese, I instead endured forced inactivity (only getting vertical to use the restroom) in order to preserve the life of the baby I was carrying. It was okay. It was a necessary action. I wanted that kid to survive. I only wish I’d had a body that assisted me (and the kid) rather than worked against me (and the kid). (It was during this pregnancy that I also began to experience the onset of multiple chemical sensitivity–also felt like and is a no-fun body betrayal.)
However, this day in 1989, the day that my baby was born full term (and then some) was indeed a day of Winning Big. And it was the kid’s win as much as mine. This recent Radiolab podcast on placentas, the organ created by the embryo to ensure its survival, is as enlightening as it is strangely comforting. Even through the weird haze of pregnancy hormones, and their metallic taste, I knew that the soft-focus, pastel hues of commercially sanctioned pregnancies weren’t the whole truth. Yeah, you DO become all soft and tender and blurred and that’s a damn good thing in those early post-partum weeks, when you spend your days moist and mulched by milk, blood, and sweat. You swim through the aftermath of the miracle of birth, rather than walk.
And I was stunned by my realization of the absolute bravery of a soul which launches itself into a mortal body, helpless for years at the hands of its parents and the rest of humanity. It was an act of courage taking place in our studio apartment and it would go on and on and on until the end of that soul’s present incarnation.
Holy fucking shit.
And let’s just put in a good word for those who have birthed–as it is just about the most frightening, foolishly optimistic, and potentially transcendent, fully PHYSICAL initiation around. There’s a bit of bravery there too, though gestation is often undertaken with a blithe incomprehension of the risks and rewards ahead.
With all this in mind, I’ve often wondered by mothers (and other gestational parents) are so often scorned in our sick, patriarchal, capitalist society, as well as by the children themselves (and often the co-parent). Does part of this have to do with that relentless placental battle for survival? Is there a deep, hopelessly atavistic trauma embedded in each successfully birthed human, as birth itself represents the “win” of the baby over the gestational parent whose body wanted to reject it as foriegn and other? (Honestly, listen to that podcast!)
If so, then I am fucked, and so is every other gestational parent. I see now why so many “mother goddesses” are associated with death as well as birth. And if we are not honored for our (totally unconscious) role in this first of all death/birth dances, then we are reviled or at least held at arm’s length by our offspring, who are unable to overcome that primal sense that their birthing parent’s bodies once wanted them gone, even if we spend a goodly number of years afterwards trying to nurture and protect them.
This is a lens or a perspective I turn onto my relationship with my own mother, as well as on myself as a “mother.” I wonder over it and can ultimately do nothing except to bless all involved, for we “knew not what we did.”
To acknowledge and fully celebrate my non-binary self and status, I’ve been privately considering a name change. But I’ve been reluctant to give up a recent revelation regarding the name “Amy” as it represents a connection to the Goetic demon and fallen angel of the same name. (My mother thought she was naming me after Amy March in Little Women, but…ha ha! She was wrong!)
That connection between a demon and my name is a significant “signal flag” for me, particularly as Lord Amy also rules the period of my birthday, which takes place on the back half of Samhain (Nov. 1st). So while I never related to the name “Amy” (too soft) I finally began to appreciate what I could learn from it (and from the personage himself). In other words, I developed some reluctance to jettison the connection that was implied by the name.
However the brilliant solution finally presented itself: retain the connection by taking the name Avnas instead (which is Lord Amy’s other name). I asked “the powers” (including Lord Amy) for permission to use this name, and checked in via pendulum and tarot. The answer seems to be a yes. I feel happy.
As for my last name, I’ve always wanted to drop the “h” from Marsh and use Mars instead because it would be so much cooler and no one could call me “Marshmellow” ever again (oh those childhood wounds!), so this is a perfect opportunity to combine the two.
Who could make fun of that, right? Who would DARE? (Call me “Martian” at your peril!)
The downside is that the legalities of the name change will be annoying and the cost is apparently quite high, but it will be worth it. I’ll do a formal name-change ceremony on my birthday, as well.
Now, the other name change I have to consider is that of this blog. In a couple of weeks I’ll no longer be living beside a lake. Instead, I’ll have the rushing waters of the Willamette River within a few blocks of my new home. Lady of the Lake of course refers to a significant water spirit, not to me, but it seems as if I should acknowledge the river spirits once I move. So far, I don’t have anything picked out yet but a new name will emerge soon.