Living the Alternative Life

I had an amazing, yet rather run of the mill conversation, with my friend Elizabeth during the retreat concerning motherhood. She said that she keeps befriending women like me: childless yet desiring to be a mother. 

Elizabeth said that she firmly believes that some women are born to be universal mothers; mothers to everyone. My friend Mike has said something similar in the past, I think after my miscarriage. Elizabeth also mentioned some other things like shamanism but for now, I’m focusing on universal motherhood. 

It has been two years since my last attempt to become a birth mother to someone. It has been a tough six years. I would not wish infertility on anyone. I do not wish childlessness on anyone. But, if I’m being honest, and looking back maturely, whilst the journey has been very lonely and very harrowing, I am grateful for it. Grateful for every second, every tear, every tiny little thing. 

I’m in a good place now. I see the potential for my life. My ‘fertility’ is leading me towards new horizons. And I am strong, and resilient, and a survivor. And I am embracing new challenges. I am a universal mother, an earth mother. And, as a result, I will share my ‘maternity’ with a lot of children and a lot of people. 

It was difficult at times, to believe that life could be good again, that I would laugh and smile without a sense of longing, that my path would take shape and be just as valid as motherhood in my eyes. It was very difficult at times. 

But what I have learned is that motherhood, fertility, raising children does not have to be restricted to reproduction in a human sense. I will still feel a twang every time I hear that someone has fallen pregnant but I am okay. It’s taken a long time, been a long journey, but I am grateful for where I stand. I am grateful for the creation of the other in my life. 

I am blessed. 

PS. At the time I didn’t realise the long term impact on my psyche of the drugs used in the IVF treatments. They say there aren’t any, but there are. It impacts us, the entirety of the journey, whether successful or not. If you are doing IVF and don’t feel quite right, trust it. But you will be. It requires work, patience and faith, but you will become you again. And, if you’re lucky like me, a better version of yourself. More whole. Happier. A survivor embracing regeneration. 

One Week Down

My friend Sara, and I went to see Wild on Thursday afternoon; an attempt at work/life balance as well as intellectual and spiritual reflection. What an incredible film! As an English teacher I am never immune to the quality of craftsmanship as well as the quality of story: both superb.

I had intended to write this on Thursday night when I arrived home but the fur kids were feeling very neglected. They took priority. Even now, two and a half days later, the words are still milling inside my brain and aren’t very coherent; I will probably not do the film justice.

I cried for most of it. I love when a film resonates that deeply. I hate when a film resonates that deeply. Sara and I were the only ones that laughed at the opening scene when she throws her boot. As we laughed though, I knew that when that scene was put into context I would be crying. And I did. Buckets. And that was whilst I forced most of them back so that I didn’t become ‘that woman kicking, screaming and sobbing in the foetal position’ in the cinema. Lol. Gotta love the magic of story.

Sara and I were the only ones that laughed at quite a few scenes. As Cheryl struggled with her backpack I was drawn back to backpacking in Europe in winter during 2010, struggling to get backpacks on as trains arrived at destinations. Quality memories.

And then her journey to reclaim herself. A worthwhile journey not dissimilar to Elizabeth Gilbert’s in Eat, Pray, Love. Physical challenge that supports inner growth. Is it really inner growth though or journey back to whom we truly are. Reclaiming the pure essence of childhood before life imprinted.

It is so easy to want to give up. To not live wholly, to make excuses, to become bogged down. It is so valuable to keep pushing forward though, to vanquish our enemies and demons, and to live authentically in a world that really only wants automatons. To know that you are breathing the mountain air freely …

Having said that, prior to the movie I saw a man walking up the stairs. I blinked. He wasn’t really there, well not in this realm. I say this only to provide context for what followed.

The cinema only had six other people in it. A group of three women, a lone woman, an elderly couple and us. I didn’t hear the mother with baby walk in and sit directly behind me. In 44 years of life and many many movie viewings, I have never been in a cinema with a mum and bub unless it was a mum and bubs session. And that only once before the epic journey of trying to conceive.

Part way through the movie I heard a baby gurgling behind me. I froze. After seeing the man I didn’t know if this was my imagination, a sign or what. My first response was to run. My second response was significantly more rational – if this was a sign from the Gods, what was it a sign of?

I tried to turn discretely to see if there was a baby but couldn’t turn enough to see; in my mind I didn’t want to make a real mum self-conscious about her baby’s noises when obviously, this was her ‘me’ time. And she is entitled to that free from judgement.

What are the odds?

And the noises continued throughout the movie. Eventually I realised, when rational mind took over, that the baby was real, and eventually I stopped trying to ascertain what it could possibly mean.

It will all be what it is meant to be.

She tries to say with conviction lol. Unsuccessfully. Her mind and heart know she is still struggling to find an answer that feels right. That journey is clearly not yet at its end.

Journeys are incredible things. Ironically, teaching that concept to Year 11 this term 😳.

The path is not always (rarely) straightforward. They can be (often are) unpredictable and frustrating. Obstacles abound, trying to force you back or make you stop, every time you think you are making progress. And they are exhausting.

But beautiful. And liberating. And rewarding.

Almost always taking you to your self, your true potential. We are far stronger than we believe. And infinitely more capable than we imagine.

I once trekked through the Annapurna’s in Nepal.

This year is a new journey for me. Trying to be who I am and live more wholly. With more balance and more external inspiration.

The sunrise was beautiful yesterday morning. The ocean was ferocious. Unswimmable. The ocean cleansing itself of its own impurities? But ravagingly beautiful all the same; a reminder that she doesn’t exist for others but for herself , and often she will allow us in to share her beauty but she will give herself time when she needs it. To heal her own wounds and forge her own path; separately from all who depend on her.

Timely reminder.

And so I have bought tickets to Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk at the Opera House in March, and have booked myself in for a ukulele workshop over two Saturdays in March.

Balance is important. As is the need to forge one’s own path, separately from those that depend on us for theirs.

There will be more coming in this vein … Still processing 😉.