Changing Seasons and Building Villages

Share

I am standing on the brink of the most powerful change in my life, facing something that is at once nearly universal, and deeply personal: motherhood.

Just 8 weeks (or so) from now, I will bring a new life into the world, and by doing so, completely change mine and that of my wife. It’s got me all contemplative and sentimental and scared and at peace. It’s an amazing place to be. No feeling in my life has ever come close to it. This is what gravity feels like when you can almost hold it in your hands.

I have been thinking for a long time about what to do with this blog. It has been sitting, untouched, for almost two years now – as the seasons of life (weddings and deaths and family planning) have left me with little energy to focus on it.

As I face this change I keep thinking of seasons as a metaphor for change in a life. Seasons of Salt, while perhaps moving away from it’s original purpose as an exploration of Great Salt Lake, is a name and a place that can encompass explorations of every human variety. I’m not sure what that will look like, but as I face this new season in my life, I am sure there will be urges to write, to reflect, to offer wholly unqualified philosophizing on life, parenting, everything. I hope I can find the time to do that, between all things baby and being a working mom and a wife and a daughter and a sister. As for “Salt” – I would like to take on a tone that is a bit more “salty” when it comes to matters of life, parenthood, and philosophy.  As in this definition:

  • (of language or humor) down-to-earth; coarse.
    synonyms: earthy, colorful, spicy, racy, risqué, naughty, vulgar, rude; piquant, biting

    “a salty sense of humor”
  • informal
    tough; aggressive.

It’s how I anticipate facing parenthood in this modern world anyway.

I hope that what’s left of the group of readers that loved following those Great Salt Lake adventures will indulge me as I go down a different path. If not, perhaps this will find new readers. Or not. I may just be talking to myself, and that’s ok too.

Speaking of talking to myself, here’s a dose of what I’ve been thinking lately:

This morning, while eating breakfast, I looked out the glass door to the back yard, and in my mind I saw our little person standing there, sticky hands on the glass, running through the kitchen towards me, accompanied by the almost audible patter of feet and squeal of laughter. On my walk to work I imagined the joy of introducing our little one to tulips and hyacinths next year. I meditated on how amazing my wife will be as a mother. I thought about the ways our personalities and approaches will compliment each other.

And I worried. Interspersed with dreaming is always a dose of worry. I know it will not be all sunshine and roses. What if baby is sick or something goes wrong? What if I get sick or something goes wrong? What if our approaches don’t mesh sometimes? What if I can’t do it? What if I lose my wife? What if I lose myself? What if I find myself?

I’ve thought about all of this for a long time, but it is all coming to a head because there’s a stroller parked in our dining room, and the nursery is full of gifts from loving family and friends, and this suddenly feels so much more real than it has ever felt before. Eight weeks and our lives will NEVER be the same.

Yesterday, on the elevator at work, I had the first complete stranger reach out (with both hands) to caress my growing baby bump. Outright caress! As I stared at her in disbelief, a coworker I know said “don’t you hate when people just touch you like that?” The funny thing is, though I was caught off guard, I try hard not to mind too much. It is definitely strange that people feel they have the right to touch me, to ask personal questions, and to dispense unasked for advice, but I came to the conclusion early on that this need to interject into my pregnancy is evolutionary, and some people just can’t help it.

Here’s my theory: we, as a species, see someone propagating our kind and feel we have a stake in the success of it. It’s a habitual response that hearkens back to our communal roots. Separated from the ability to easily indulge in that evolutionary need, I think humans become somewhat neurotic, which leads to awkward encounters of all kinds! So, rather than take it personally, I’ve been observing, keenly interested in the crazy things people say and do whenever a baby bump is in their presence.

It would be all too easy to get offended and angry. It’s hard not to get sick and tired of answering the same questions over and over, or to get defensive about my pragmatic approach to labor/delivery/breastfeeding/parenting. I could also easily get offended by having my worth purely defined by my pregnancy, or by suddenly becoming some object to be handled. Sometimes I fail to simply observe, but I am trying. I try to remind myself of evolution, the innate need to be part of a village, and how difficult that has become in modern society.

For most of human history, we have raised our children within communities where many people were actively engaged and responsible for their health and welfare. It is only in recent history that humans have had this idea that parents must be FULLY responsible for every moment of their child’s life, and they must do this on their own. It’s similar to this idea that a spouse should be EVERYTHING for their spouse. When did we decide that we must be such stoic loners, anyway? It just isn’t healthy for us and our relationships. And that’s not what I want for us or our child.

But we are incredibly blessed. This last weekend, I was strongly reminded that we are not alone. Two showers, and a house full of family and friends and their little ones, made me feel full and blessed and comforted and supported. I can’t wait to introduce our little one to the network of adults and kids who will not only love baby, but teach him/her different ways of seeing the world, processing information, building relationships, and behaving.

As far as people go, our village is full of some of the very best. When I reflect on this community, I am less afraid. Whatever happens, I know we have support to face all of the unknowns. We have parent friends who have tried and tested different ways of raising children that are willing to share their knowledge with us – and I highly value their insights (much more than those of the random stranger on the street). We have incredible single or childless friends who can’t wait to be aunties and uncles to our little one and who have an amazing array of life experiences I hope our little one can learn from and emulate. Of course, there is the giant family of grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who all have immense amounts of love for the newest addition to our tribe, even before he/she arrives – and they will always be the strongest pillars that we lean on.

So yeah, here’s to new adventures of the scariest and most fulfilling kind. And to becoming more and more salty through it all!

Share

One thought on “Changing Seasons and Building Villages

  1. I think about a phone call we got years ago about a little girl walking alone, like she owned the place, on Main St. in Eureka. I thought first, OH MY! Then, I realized this is a place where I wanted to be because it truly exemplified how it takes a village to raise a child. The thing is, at the time I didn’t know the woman who called but I soon did and eventually had her son in my class at school and later, also at school, as a student in High School when I was a principal. He was a great young man and we all had a part in helping him become who he was. None of us should ever be alone but be a part of a community. I’m so happy this baby is being born into a loving home with loving family and friends.

Leave a Reply to Tom Nedreberg Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *