On Being a Provider

heart in handsI recently gave birth at home to an 8lb 6oz baby girl who slipped eagerly into her papa’s hands as soon as she emerged into the world.

As the main income generator of our now 3-person household, I’m used to the idea of being the “provider” … the one who makes the money, pays the bills, brings home the bacon, etc. When I began breastfeeding it occurred to me that I’ve become a provider in a different way. I was literally built (or made, or born) to provide for this child by creating her most perfect food, something precisely calibrated for her needs, her immune system, and the growth and nourishment of her magnificent body and brain. I take great pride in this ability, as a woman and as a mother. How amazing are our bodies!? How magical this relationship we can have with our children!

But when the night came that, for various reasons, she refused both breasts over and over and hubby had to bottle feed her, my hidden feelings of inadequacy … uselessness … and helplessness relentlessly took hold. I felt broken, the wholeness of me reduced to a defect, a failure. This ability of mine to create and provide my child’s most perfect food had failed me. No, I had failed her. And it was an all-consuming failure.

Through no fault of my own, sure. And she WAS still drinking breast milk from the bottle, yes. But the thing about how my brain works, this brain with its depressive tendencies and dark, dark, scary corners I try to stay out of … the thing about this brain is that it’s blind to my many successes but quick to point out failures in their slightest forms.

Add to that the incorrect assumption that I AM what I DO, suddenly one tiny incident turns into a horrible declaration in my mind which screams, “I cannot breastfeed, therefore I am not a good provider … or a good mother. I AM a failure.”

It took me hours to call out all the fallacies that led me down this dark mental path into the sobbing, whimpering shell of a woman I became that night, to tear myself away from their cruel and bloody hold on me. Later, when the daylight came to scare away my darkest thoughts, I remembered … I can still provide love. And care. And compassion. And patience. And appreciation. To myself as well as to my daughter. I am still a provider. I am still a mother. Someday, I might even declare myself a good one.

Until then, I’m reminded of hubby’s kind and constant words … I am not alone as a provider, or a parent. We’re a team. We’re doing this together, tackling every strange and challenging moment that arises as it comes.

I had no idea my greatest challenge as a new parent would be the fight with my own demons. I should’ve known.

The Fire Snake

I used to be softer,
and loving.
I used to be caring
and kind.

But the seal on my venom
has broken
And my fury has turned
my heart blind.

My emptiness fills fast
with loathing.
My sorrow turned
fiery blame.

The rage in my veins won’t
stop growing.
Where peace once was, now
only pain.

May the world be both wary
and cautious.
To my cherished beloved,
Run!

I will burn this land down
into ashes.
In my wake, my wild flames
will leave none.

Nothing Left to Say

I’ve told all my stories
In the darkest nights
To the kindest ears
Through the burning tears

I’ve relived every moment
Every bitter lie
Every shocking truth
Of my torturous youth

I’ve torn off every scar
From each bulging wound
To tell my old tales
All my losses and fails

But I’m too tired now
And it’s time to heal
Let my tales pass away
There’s nothing left to say

If I Were

If I were a seed,
breaking the brittle walls
of my dying shell,
I would brave the darkness
for the light calling my name.

If I were a sprout
I’d reach my flimsy leaves
up to the sky and
sing my songs of thanks for
the life-giving rain.

If I were a tree,
solid and stoic, rooted in
Mother Earth’s flesh,
I would stand fearless through
the fiercest storms, unswayed.

But I am only human,
cowering in darkness,
hiding from the storm in shame,
praying someday that
I’ll become strong again.

Alive

I think sometimes that it’s not enough
to be just enough
for existence’s sake;

not enough to stand in the wake
of your life rushing off
to greet your fate;

not enough to let moments pass
without taking a chance
‘cuz your hands might shake;

not enough to run from love
for fear that
your heart might break.

What is it that makes you feel alive?

For me, it’s the look in someone else’s eyes
when you talk and they see you,
straight through your lies and sweet alibis,
and still wanna be by your side.

For me, it’s the laughter that heartache brings
three hours after the vodka when the dawn bird sings
and you’ve stayed up talking ’bout crazy things
and you feel like this friend’s given you wings.

For me, it’s the tip-tap of little feet
when my goddaughter announces her pedicure’s complete,
but she’s only two, and it’s so sweet ’cause
she’s pure and innocent and ready to beat
down the doors of this universe, being hardly discreet,
to make the world worship at her feet.

For me, it’s the music that moves my soul,
the poetry that makes me feel whole,
the chaos when life’s outta’ control
and all you can do is just not let go
of what makes you feel,
what makes you real,
what makes dawn break and the world appear,
what makes the earth shake, bringing mortality so near,
what makes love push you past the point of fear,
what makes you bleed,
what makes you tear,
what makes you wanna’ stand up and cheer …

because it’s not enough
to be just enough.

At least, it’s not for me.

Good Morning

Sitting in the quiet of the world,
embraced by the waning dark of night,
I think of you and I want to say –
“Good morning…

Look what joys life continues to bring!
Hear the songs my heart’s learning to sing!”
Then I remember you’re not here on this
good morning.

So I whisper my words to the sky,
as the darkness gives way to the light,
and I still my aching heart,
ever mourning.

Let the day come as it may.
Let life pass, let my soul age.
‘Til we meet again, I’ll greet you in my thoughts
each morning.

Wounds

We wander this world with wounds,
caused by you
caused by me.

Each time we open our mouths
the other bleeds.
The other bleeds.

You drain me with your whispers
and I end you with my lies.
The truth is even harder to tell.
From honesty, we’d die.

So we wander far away,
far from you
far from me.

To hide the wounds that will not heal.
Let them be.
No one sees.