Motherhood

International-Womens-Day-2017

Dear Noah,

I’m beginning to learn you. I know now that you will not sleep unless it is in your rocker-sleeper. You prefer soft movement over stillness. You prefer white noise over quiet. And you like to feel the energy of someone close to you as you fall asleep. So here I am, my love.

Here I am sitting next to you, browsing my Facebook feed and realizing for the first time today (it’s 1 p.m.) that it’s International Women’s Day. Prior to your arrival, there’s no way on earth I would have forgotten about this day. Surely I’d be celebrating the fierce women I love and admire all day long, and I’d be dressed in red from head to toe.

But Noah, I’m not wearing red today. I’m wearing a nursing bra and the same outfit I had on yesterday, even though it’s covered in spit up, and yes, maybe a little poop. I don’t look bold and beautiful, and I don’t quite feel that way either. Lord knows what I feel anymore. I feel tired and anxious and frustrated and joyful and grateful and madly in love. Since giving birth to you just three weeks ago, I’ve felt more emotion than I ever knew my heart and body could contain.

All this feeling makes me want to write, and so today, on International Women’s Day, here are a few heart-truths I want you to know:

  1. My dad, your Grandpa, rarely noticed me as a child unless I stood out. This is because a terrible disease, the disease of addiction, stole most of his awareness. So as his daughter, I had to work extra hard to make sure he saw me. And when you have to work hard to be noticed, it doesn’t feel like love.
  2. All that anyone ever wants in life is love. But sometimes we confuse love with other things, and this confusion, if it gets deep enough, can destroy us.
  3. Well into my twenties I was still trying to impress my alcoholic father, and also, the unattainable men I dated. I spent my money on dying my hair, on the latest styles and brand names, on make-up, on gym memberships, on tanning booths—on any and all things related to appearances. When I worked out, I stared at a picture of Jessica Alba on my phone. She was my hero. She had the “perfect body.” And that’s what I admired in a woman more than anything else…her looks. I envied them. I wanted them. I thought they would make me happy.
  4. I was wrong.
  5. Now in my thirties, my ideas about powerful women are changing.
  6. I know a woman who creates aw-inspiring storms. Nothing is still and everything is wild when she steps on stage. Her poetry and music and dance moves us in ways we try to name. But we can never quite name them, because her inspiration is beyond this world. It’s beyond us. She’s my hero.
  7. I know a woman who battled depression, and she isn’t afraid to talk about it. She’s my hero.
  8. I know a woman who survived the unthinkable, and who has every reason to hate the world. But every day, she chooses love. She’s my hero.
  9. I know a woman who continued to write even though her writing was too much for some people. When it came to being liked or being healed, she chose writing over applause. She chose herself. She’s my hero.
  10. I know a woman who loves another woman and who came out even though it could hurt her career (and did, initially). She is my hero.
  11. I know a woman whose poetry is changing the world. She’s my hero.
  12. I know a woman who makes time for playing the drums at night, even when there is no time at all. She’s my hero.
  13. I know a woman who was relentlessly bullied by her opponent, but who never sunk down to his level. She is my hero.
  14. Noah, this list might go on forever. Because women are oceans, and I’ve only just now started looking beneath the surface. In other women and inside of myself.
  15. The deeper I look, the more majestic the colors are: vulnerability, resilience, creativity, courage.
  16. Noah, I hope you will always know where real beauty and power and heroism reside.
  17. Deep inside a woman’s soul.

Love,

Your Ocean of a Mother

shannon-about-3

Animal Welfare Advocate. Pit Bull Smoocher. Eating Disorder Survivor. Author of Pound for Pound.

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