My mother told me that the baby will feel all that I will feel.
In relation to a high sodium/sugar diet warning, or a lesson about high blood pressure, it seems like an appropriate lesson to understand about the effect I have on the fire growing inside me.
And then I wondereed if my baby can feel my sadness, my anger, my joy, and laughs when I laugh.
I’ve never had anything grow – alive – inside me before and that statement just shot a syringe of terrifying responsibility through my veins.
In my dreams last night, I dreamt I drank alcohol, fully knowing I was pregnant. I dreamt I was indulging in behaviors I never had before — sorrid love affairs, whole loaves of bread and muffins, and cigarettes. I wake up, sighing a relief that it was just a dream.
But where is this terror coming from?
As a soon to be new mother, I am just beginning to glimpse this new world of responsibility. The world that I’ve heard stories about, but never stepped into. I think this is the world where I’ve heard so many womyn judge and compare at the highest stakes of criticism: motherhood.
I don’t have much in excess. I don’t have a lot of savings. I’m not in therapy. I can’t buy organic. I sure as hell don’t have a mini-van or buy new clothes and sandals from a name brand store. I don’t know how to sew, have changed about 3 diapers in my life, and can’t stand doing the laundry.
I do believe that the memory of my mother’s rearing will guide me in what I need to do.
My mother entered the United States when she was 20 years old, determined to make money for her family in the Philippines. Over the course of 43 years, she’s managed to raise four children with no college degree or a lick of luxury to speak of. She raised us without lollipops or ice cream trucks. She hid, literally, from her children, when the ice cream truck music sounded on our street and pressed herself into a wall because she didn’t even have a quarter to spare for a popsicle.
My mother fought her way through high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep deprivation, heel spikes, thyroid problems, and bitter racism in the midwest.
She had religion. She had her faith. She brought us up, surrounding us in a protective circle of love, prayer, and simplicity. Where others had salads and desserts, we had a pot of rice, two fish sticks, and water for dessert. We were a family and didn’t need much else. Not until we were told that we needed “more” by our friends and commercials. Then our conversations became more and more westernized, more Americanized.
It’s only now I can begin to appreciate the decisions my mother made and how difficult times were for her, but we barely understood the stress she must have been under for so long. She raised a family in a foreign country while supporting her other family back home, sending her siblings to college, supporting her widowed mother.
It’s the memories my mother has left me that gives me strength when I feel terror, when I feel I may not have “enough” to bring life into this world. When I wonder how we’ll afford a crib, baby seats, strollers, changing tables and food, I remember that my mother never bought baby food, but used her big pots, hot water, an old blender, and tupperware.
It’s the memory of my mother that releases any external pressure or worry that I may not “have,” or am, enough.