Archive for the 'babies' Category

Blogs and postings

December 10, 2013

I saw a reference, in a newsletter I received by snail mail, to a blog by a woman who has a child with disabilities.  I went to have a look, read half a dozen or so posts, and posted this myself as a comment:

I discovered this blog today, and there are so many things I could say, in addition to “Yes!” But what I wanted to mention is what I guess has been my version of “no points for style.” (My apologies if I should have put this comment elsewhere.)
I screamed my way through a premature labor — too early in the pregnancy to have taken the labor class and no pain meds allowed for a premature birth. (The baby died shortly after birth, and I have to say that at least I didn’t have to wonder if meds contributed to that.) As I have attempted to be a widowed parent to two (adopted) children who have struggled mightily since their father’s death, I have thought that I feel as though sometimes I get through it by metaphorically screaming my way through it, like that painful labor. Someone I go to occasionally for guidance uses the metaphor of birthing for why I am finding my situation so hard, and that acknowledgement that it is that painful, and that just getting through it is enough, helps me a lot.

And then I read the Daily Meditation by Richard Rohr for today:

The Freedom of Not Knowing

Meditation 32 of 52

Prayer is largely just being silent: holding the tension instead of even talking it through, offering the moment instead of fixing it by words and ideas, loving reality as it is instead of understanding it fully. Prayer is commonly a willingness to say “I don’t know.” We must not push the river, we must just trust that we are already in the river, and God is the certain flow and current.

That may be impractical, but the way of faith is not the way of efficiency. So much of life is just a matter of listening and waiting, and enjoying the expansiveness that comes from such willingness to hold. It is like carrying and growing a baby: women wait and trust and hopefully eat good food, and the baby is born.

I sometimes feel as if I am in an energy stream, kind of like being under a waterfall, and the energy flows through me and comes out one way;  and the people I come into contact with have the same energy flowing through them, too, and it comes out another way through them.

Who’s raising the child

April 17, 2013

With the current Supreme Court case about who should raise a child of an Indian father in the news, I was thinking of other cases (some legal cases, some only social worker cases) I’ve known about that seem to fit a similar pattern.  I don’t know all the facts to all the cases, including this one, but I am curious about whether people are taking into account that as an emotional matter, there is a difference for some people between having the biological mother of their child raise the child, or even their extended family, and placing the child with “strangers.” I would say that if and when a mother decides to place a child for adoption, the parental rights of the biological father are revisited and he either consents to the adoption and relinquishes his rights anew, or he takes responsibility for the child’s care in some way.

And there is a difference between asking a father about terminating his parental rights in the context of asking for financial support from him and asking him as a general matter whether he wishes to sever his ties to the child.  We can have laws that predicate parental rights on certain kinds of behavior, but this will not change emotional structures — a man may flee from financial responsibility without changing his sense of connection with his offspring.  We can disapprove of this til the cows come home, but not dealing with it realistically apparently produces fathers reappearing and inserting themselves into proceedings at inconvenient times.  Fathers know of cases in which by continuing their parental rights they end up with lots of (financial) burden and not the benefit of actual involvement in the child’s life — a new boyfriend of the mother, her mother, some other relative of hers may help her push him out of the picture, to use the system to curtail his rights, especially if she has more social resources to do this than he.  And I know of cases in which it seemed pretty clear that the biological mother had been a part of orchestrating a situation in which the father could disrupt an adoptive placement she had had second thoughts about.

I guess my thought is that to resolve these situations, we need changes in social working more than we need fine legal distinctions and interpretations by sophisticated jurists.

More on floating

October 19, 2012

I was driving home from somewhere recently and saw a hawk floating high up in the sky, having one of those moments when it looks motionless but easily aloft.  I thought, “Maybe that’s why I’m so taken with hawks, I am trying to figure out how to float (metaphorically).  How to hover easily above or in or otherwise with regard to the moment.”

For me, having a sense of how to arrange my mind to do that has not come through someone telling me about it; that may have set the stage, but actually “getting” what the note sounds like (to mix the metaphor) has come through what has felt like an empathetic experience with someone who has the skill or well-developed ability already.

When my mother was working with me to overcome my mispronunciation of Ks and hard Cs and hard Gs when I was about five or six, I didn’t get for a long time what I was doing differently.  Suddenly I realized it was where in my mouth or throat the motions or contractions or whatever were being done — in the floor or back of my mouth, not behind my teeth as I had been doing.  With this floating and not pressuring the moment it’s a similar issue of figuring out what it entails.

The other day I was waiting in my son’s dentist’s waiting room and there was a baby in a caregiver’s arms (my son thought she was a nanny) drinking a bottle and falling asleep.  I got this really peaceful feeling inside myself and starting feeling sleepy, too.  It was quite lovely.

It was similar when I shared the feeling of floating through a same sort of vicarious experience of someone else’s experience.  The other person may have learned to do this floating through prayer and meditation, I don’t know.  I do know that what was encumbering me was basically anxiety and its sequelae.  But anxiety can be a mindset that seems real, that crowds out all other, non-anxious ways of interfacing with the world.  So changing it through wanting to doesn’t always work, I think, whereas having a “pace car” of somebody else’s floating can.

That’s I think what I did.  Not that I’m doing my own floating continously and wonderfully now, but at least I know what it feels like.  I wrote before about how for me it helps to think about not applying so much pressure to the moment itself and letting the natural rhythm of the situation establish the beat for me to follow.  Having experienced the experience, I can practice it myself, kind of re-find the note to sing after having heard it, and matched it, from somebody else’s pitch pipe.  (Well, at least the last couple of metaphors were both musical, even if I am mixing them.)

I am extremely grateful to whoever shared with me their floating.  I don’t know whether that happens as a gift or an exchange; if the latter, I hope they got back something equally helpful from me, although I’m not sure what that would be.  (Maybe I helped someone else similarly and this is part of a bigger and more complicated system?)  If the former, that too is an ability I would like to develop.

I suspect my recent extra-awareness of things that float, like islands and hawks, is related to my working on learning to float myself.

Locating the blockage

November 22, 2011

I think a primary task for me, at least, is learning to love more people better.  I have become aware of blockages within me to doing that, sometimes at the very moment when they’ve come undone.

For example, I once found myself finding the emotional note that I identify with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, when she was happy that her husband with Alzheimer’s Disease had found some happiness with another woman (Adele sort of sings about that feeling in “Someone Like You,” but there’s less serenity, I think, in the moment she is occupying), and the feeling was like breathing out for me.  For someone else, it could be figuring out how to feel compassion for someone to whom they would usually react with contempt, instead of judging them or trying to fix them.  Or maybe it’s finding a new format for an old love, for example, when we find ourselves as middle-aged adults in a new role with our aging parents, and feel as if the roles of parent and child in some ways have been reversed — same love, different format.  In that new format, it may even be easier to express that love more easily because some issue that was an obstacle within the old dynamic is simply not present in the new one.

I think we practice how to love on small babies and pets, because with them we have fewer expectations and more acceptance of their limitations, and they love us back more simply and directly so they contribute fewer obstacles to free flowing of the love.  We don’t mind doing for them, maybe because they love us back so freely, and that is more than enough for us.

I guess I would also add as a final point that maybe we don’t serve our own needs well, or do the other person any favors, when we insist on persisting in a particular format of love with another person, even when the circumstances do not readily support that format.  Maybe I’m wrong, maybe we need to persist in that kind of love despite not being able to act on it, like grandparents who are unable to have sufficient contact with a grandchild, for example, continue their love nevertheless.  But sometimes, I think, changing a format may allow the same love to be actually expressed in action, analogous perhaps to the pair finding a language in common through which they can communicate.