Hear a tune in the air going “Let’s get philosophical” to the tune of “Let’s Get Physical” sang by Olivia Newton.
Okay. Yes, Motherhood is quite a physical act. But it also hovers the philosophical realm. Today I think about “non-existence” in parenting.
I am a self-proclaimed existentialist. I ask about existence, what it is, what about it, and if it is even there. Today, my existentialist lens was triggered into place when I had to experience yet another Mommy moment with the kids.
Anybody who has children will tell you, whining is not only nerve wrecking but also an almost every day occurrence. Only a few days ago, I felt my walk in the wall of shame with my resistance to tantrums and whinings. Today, in the wake of such shame, I have some sense of grounding to not react instinctively, but to think a little instead, and let the waves of whining wash over me.
When humans are stressed, their adrenaline kicks in to trigger the fight, flight or freeze moments. I am a mother. I cannot run away and abandon my kids. The other day, I was in the fight mode. Today, I froze. I went into a momentary state of non-existence. I stopped everything I was doing or wanting to do and just laid on my son’s bed (he was in his room when the incident happened). I looked up at the vaulted ceiling. Beautiful wood panels painted white. I briefly noticed my breathing but I was not attempting to meditate. I shut my emotions down. I tuned him out. I closed the doors to thoughts and just “zoned out”.
At some point in my transition from stressed out state to frozen state, my son left the room to play on his iPad. I stayed there for a few more minutes, thinking about, how I cannot have my own personal emotions. I cannot feel angry, annoyed, resentful, tired, frustrated, disappointed, betrayed. I cannot indulge myself and join myself in being as the flow takes over when I am working on any one project. Then, I stop to acknowledge I did have a few hours this morning to myself as my husband took the kids “Pokemon Go” hunting (all the rage right now). I was able to finish up the bead necklace I’ve intended to make for my sister about 9 months ago. I completed the finishing for the infant hat knitting project that I started about 1 year ago. I stitched up the torn piece of my beautiful lace and velvet top. Small crafts that would’ve only taken me a few seconds or a few days took an average of a year, and the reason behind this delay being this state of non-existence which I have been thrusted into as a mother.
I cannot have my own existence – no personal emotions allowed to surface, no personal interests or hobbies allowed to be indulged in, no personal space I can occupy (they still look around for me when I’m in the bathroom, the only occasional sanctuary in a house with kids). This for the past 9 years. Almost a decade of my life, I have not been allowed to exist. The only role I can take on is that of a mother. These days, I cannot even be a wife. My son is going through an extended oedipal complex phase.
Oh, I resisted though. I am a fighter in spirit. I am a writer and a poet, after all, thus a revolutionary in heart. My ancestors were warriors on horses traveling down mountainous regions to settle in my motherland. My mothers, aunts, and grandmothers before me were matriarchs in their own rights, that still to this day do not take on a husband’s last name, and are the “Chief Operating Officers” of their households (and in my mother’s and my great grandmothers’ cases, they were CEOs as well). I do not have my husband’s last name. I retain this right from my history.
This warrior and entrepreneur in me resisted with my many recarnations of employment/unemployment, stay-at-home/working mom, housewife/career artist roles. My existence is burning with passion to be very much bold and visible. But in the face of children, such existence dissipates with annihilation. All my passions, emotions, wide arrays of interests and talents, all get thrown into the trash and the only me that is allowed to be there is one who has to serve, to hold and contain, to attend, to teach endlessly. How exhuasting.
I am a writer, a dancer, a poet, a lover of life, a thinker, a dreamer, an activist, a soul, a daughter of this earth. I am a human being. I exist so vibrantly somewhere deep in there. But with each day, it feels as if I am vaporizing into thin air.
Last few nights, my daughter had been having existential angst around death and not being remembered. I had to coax her to sleep as I laid by her side. (I just lost my train of thought on this as my ears picked up my children’s voices tinged with hints of annoyance…Mommy Mode kicked in and I had to be on alert for potential sibling rivalry – could this be the shell shock syndrome of motherhood??)
Back to my lost thought. It is about death. How was I so calm in face of the thought of physical death yet so fragmented when I am faced with psychic death? Buddha says there is non-self, no soul. It is all cause and effect. Existentialists say there is no essence in existence but rather just the being and becoming. But what if, what if there is no space for being or becoming? What if effect cannot follow cause? What if this non-existence consumes me? What if I can not be the Other for my children to experience and they remain in the state of gestation with no birth, in state of complete merge with no emergence. How can I say I have given birth to my children, release them into the world, if I cannot let my existence, my Otherness be seen and felt by my children? My resistance is not merely my own survival against annihilation. My resistance is a motherly act to allow my children to be born, to emerge as their own little wonderful human beings as they are.
Perhaps it is the children then, that do not want to be born. Perhaps the womb is the most favorite place for them to be in. Perhaps the world out there is not more appealing than the womb they have been living in since conception.
(I understand I have been writing for the past 30 minutes but this is another example of the challenge to exist – my son came to ask me if he had already eaten dinner and wanted a spoon. Why the heck did he ask me, when he can very well go grab it himself? I told him to solve the problem himself. But the very fact that he came to ask, and disrupt my train of thought, is the very challenge of non-existence.)
Word up, word out, lay low my mothas.