five years ago my life changed. it was dramatic, and it wasn’t.
my nephew was being born 3000 miles away from me. i reached out to see if i should come, if i was needed. my laboring sister and my emotionally brilliant mother gently held me off. i heard about his birth in a phone call, everyone breathless and overjoyed.
a week later, i flew out to meet him. when i held him in my arms those particular tears came into my eyes, the kind that indicate the bonding of fates. i felt joy beyond words, beyond sounds. holding him felt purposeful, and he..fit. i sang him sam cooke songs in the darkness, and couldn’t take my eyes off of him all day.
i fell in love, immediately and thoroughly and unconditionally.
actually, maybe more precisely, i learned another realm of love was possible. i understood with more humility the way my parents love me. that love isn’t rooted in debt and discipline, but unparalleled opening. an opening to another human being, full of immense pleasure, with a guarantee of pain.
and discomfort, sacrifice, tension, exhaustion, laughter, delight, learning, breakthroughs.
i understood why i wasn’t invited to be near that birth – i was addicted to my work, surviving my non-profit leader life, surrounded by brilliant people who i preferenced over my family with my attention. i spent much of our family time on my phone or computer being an important person, and then drinking or getting high for the wrong reasons – to escape from the overwhelming to-do list i was managing. i wasn’t happy, i wasn’t healthy. i felt like a victim of my life.
it slowly occurred to me, over years, that something else was possible, and that a way to measure that was in how i showed up as a daughter, as a sister, and in my relationships.
in the past five years i have transitioned my life towards the sort of happiness i want to model for these babies – the full realization of my potential. not safe, but liberated. not stable, but abundant. not perfect, but practicing. which for me looks like being an auntie, facilitator, sci-fi scholar, writer, creator, with space for the spontaneous and unknown and ever changing.
i have learned the path of a doula and applied the lessons to the birth of my sister’s youngest child, as well as my facilitation work.
if i am on the phone or computer now during family time, they know it’s for love or creating. i have a sangha of people i am in practice with, being vulnerable, landing in my body, loving.
these babies fill me up – i know they give me the spiritual energy to return to detroit during this bankrupt time feeling generative, creative, still seeing the love and future in the complexity and hardship.
i may be less important in the political world…there is, blissfully, almost nothing urgent in my life these days. but i am very important in a little house in central minnesota. and i have the same conversations (food and environmental justice, gender presentation, health, power dynamics, race, detroit’s future, love, etc) at a different scale.
i have both learned and remembered how to love by loving finn, and then siobhan, and then mairead. i am still learning to turn that tenderness, patience, unconditionality and passion towards my own heart, my own development.
getting to be in their lives, especially at the abundant level my sister and brother-in-law have granted me, floods me with gratitude.
yesterday finn turned five.
so did i.