My younger son, Colin, turned twenty-five yesterday! Wow. When I was 25, I was pregnant with my first child, and had already been a High School teacher for three years. You just never comprehend that time will pass so quickly and your own children will reach those same milestones. But what I was thinking about yesterday was that I used to say that I was born the day Colin was. So, that makes the new "me" twenty-five plus one day, too.
Most people who know me now don't believe it, but I was extremely shy and had an enormous amount of self-doubt when I was a child and even a teenager. By working as a waitress, and forcing myself to walk up to people I had never met and converse with them, and later, as I prepared to be a teacher, I started to overcome the shyness. But still, I had low self-esteem and worried, alot. I really didn't know how to accept myself and the world. I was conservative, conventional, and co-dependent. Most of my choices were made from a place of fear.
After my older son was born, I joined La Leche League. That's where I found my strength, my courage, and my community. There is no doubt in my mind that this quietly radical group of women were the ones who helped me uncover my true spirit... the one that knew what was best for my children and myself.
It's not just breastfeeding that gets taught at LLL! Through the meetings, the materials, and the acquaintances gleaned there, I learned about real natural birth, whole foods, attachment parenting, education, and living from one's convictions. I devoured the books in their library like boxes of chocolates. I never turned back. I know that, had I not found LLL and become a Leader, I would never have had the courage to attend the Unitarian church, which is now my faith home, my community, and my calling. As a group, we are as politically and socially and theologically progressive as LaLeche was about personal and family choices. I found me.
Still, I was pretty securely stuck in a marriage that did not support this new part of my inner self. When I became pregnant with Colin, my husband refused to participate in the classes that had been recommended for natural birth following a Cesearean; actually, he went to one class, and after he found out that we were going to do a visualization, wrote the whole thing off as hippie nonsense. But I had been exposed to just enough encouragement to hold my own on this. I refused to have a scheduled Cesearean and went to the classes alone. I felt riduculous, but I was damn determined! When I went into labor with Colin, I knew it would be long (I'd already had a late miscarriage after 30 plus hours labor, and a C-section after 36!) so I stayed home for almost a day and a half until I was sure things were well along. I staged my own civil disobedience (I was only a few miles away from the hospital) and took myself through labor, refusing interventions and getting up and moving around. My husband was there, but had nothing to do, because he had not attended the classes, and I wasn't using lamaze! Colin was born completely naturally about three hours after we got to the hospital. I felt that I had been born!
In a way, I was. I wouldn't name him after his father, so he went unnamed for about 6 or 7 hours. I decided to go home that same day, so that my not-yet three year old could have his family together again. I didn't continue with DPT vaccinations for Colin after he had a bad reaction (and he was a much healtheir child than Casey!). Most of all, I began taking the steps toward independence of mind and spirit so that my sons would not grow up with an oppressed and depressed mother.
Colin has been like a guru to me. He had a mind of his own from about Day 3, stood up for himself like a trooper, met every experience with zest and daring (he is very accident-prone) and just barrelled into life like a clown at a circus. He was blessed to have teachers that appreciated his spirit and didn't squelch it. I used to sing You are my sunshine... to him, over and over. He still brings me sunshine and laughter every time I see him. He has a heart of gold. He's athletic and smart. He is generous and full of love. He's loyal and believes in honesty. He is a fantastic older brother to his sister Marjorie. He is a deep thinker and he can do anything he sets his mind to.
Life has not been without its thorns and its valleys. Colin suffered from all of the bad things that accompany a bitter divorce, and he has met a lot of obstacles. But that is his story, not mine, and he is still writing it. I have faith and confidence that he, like me, will somehow, one day, experience that second birth when everything he is meant to be and to enjoy and to give to the world become manifest. Happy Birthday, sunshine!