Childhood is a Lot Like Childbirth
It Didn’t Really Hurt THAT badly, Did It?
Sitting here in Houston with my friend, Don, waiting for his umpteenth foot surgery in the morning, we got to talking about all the many foot, and other, surgeries and their accompanying painful, protracted recoveries, the two of us alone have endured over the decades. We observed that the body and brain are marvelously adaptive organisms in that they allow us to intellectually know that something, like surgery, is truly painful and shitty yet also allow us, for our own good, to voluntarily go at it, again, and again, with much the same renewal of faith and spirit and determination as before, hopefully somewhat secure in the fact that having forgotten once (or a dozen times) we will do the same again…..with better results.
I compared it, from my male none-knowlege but reliable hearsay vantage point, to that old standby, childbirth.
Having been raised in an uber-Catholic breeding ground of families ranging on the low end from 5 to a crazy-making high of 15, it seems a verifiable fact that childbirth is both a memorable act and a forgettable pain all bundled up together like some sinister swaddled bundle of painjoy, otherwise, what’s the point? Really? 15? What is the POINT?
So lying in our hotel suite tonight, not sleeping, wandering through the half-dreams that make up our personal netherworlds, I remembered a recent conversation with mom (this after waking from a dream in which I was back in Wilkes Bashford clothiers in San Francisco trying on clothes I had no business buying <look him up, shopping at Wilkes was a Peak Experience in the 70’s and 80’s> into which Barbara suddenly appeared and in her ever present wisdom questioned my sanity, but I digress…..).
It seemed mom, like the Higher Lifeform She Is, has read ALL of my blogs from start to finish, in order written.
I should add here that on a recent trip home I got to spend a few days with just Mom, going to movies, drinking wine, hanging out with other family and friends, drinking wine, going to museums and, in general, walking back into time and though our lives a bit as virtual tourists of a sort. Nice. Easy. Memory taking and memory making at the same time.
In one of my written ramblings I had mused at some length about the train wreck that was my early childhood with The Naturals, as I refer to the parents that whelped me, and how I had managed, through luck, circumstance, and pure perseverance, to prevail and overwhelm them into turning me over to the family I was supposed to have been born into, and this at a very early age, to………witness……the Mom I, and I might add ALL my other ersatz siblings, am currently still clamoring to spend every minute I can with in this life…and to our continued amazement, she with us!
Mom had that “sad that only a mother can be sad” expression when she brought up the fact that she had read this one particular blog about the smothering neglect and almost tribal triangulation that was my life at home with The Naturals. She fretted and bemoaned the fact that she had had no idea that it was so rough an existence for me. This from a woman with a philandering charismatic husband, a farm full off “helpless humans and hopeless horses”, worrying forty years in retrospect about what she could have done better. This from a mother who only wanted her particular brood of 6 (before adding me) to play, grow, thrive, and then play some more, and be children while they/we could.
Thats why we love her.
But my particular childhood up to this point, survivable…….but not what you’d call pleasant by any stretch.
I assured her that regardless of the “early childhood trauma” (to borrow a phrase from the clinicians), she had come along in ample time and with more than ample amounts of love, to till up whatever damage had been sown and in its place, seed in and feed, literally, the sprouts that would one day yield a happy, well adjusted human grownup.
Mission accomplished, job well done, add another child to Life’s ToDo List and check them off.
I must remember to thank her more…….continually……for really, in this life we are very occasionally given angels and our job is to be alert and awake enough to recognize them while they are among us and take in the light of their love and the wind of their wings and really, really, learn to fly.
So we can add Childhood to the list of sometimes painful things that, once endured….and survived….we then get to move to the column of remembered joys, just like childbirth……..and surgery, after a sort. They all have their place, their pains, and their purpose……our job is to endure the rough spots and remember only the peaks so that we attain the balance which we all need in order to know that this life, with all its challenges, is survivable and eventually always joyful. Though we remember that there was pain back there somewhere, most of all we learn to be strong enough to dive into that Pool of Pain again, when needed, in order to once more dry ourselves off on the sunny shore or remembrance where pain is an intellectual pursuit and living in joy the reality.
And so my particular childhood, while not auspicious at its inception and sometimes quite unnatural and traumatic in its fledgling stages, is now, like the rest of my melded siblings, a childhood that none of us would trade for any amount of anything the world has to offer. We say it to each other often; “We had the BEST childhood” “We were raised in the BEST place” “We had THE BEST MOM…EVER”.
It’s the Mantra which we kids have all internalized and incorporated into the very essence of who we are as adults and for me, particularly for me, the overwhelming gratitude for the gift of that childhood, for this family, this joy that makes me who I am, this is what moves that suffering that was my start into that status of intellectually remembered pain that I would be happy to dive back into over and over again, knowing that on this sunny shore…I have my life now.