As August approaches and the flowers begin to drop their petals, revealing their swollen seed pods full of promise of new life, I begin to think about my own full womb and the journey that led me here.
Unlike the flowers, the truth is, motherhood did not come naturally nor was it an easy decision for me.
I more often leaned towards not wanting to have kids than to wanting them. And I waited a long time – until I was 38 – before I finally realized that not deciding was a form of deciding. Whatever the final decision would be, I knew I did not want time to pass me by and look back in regret. So Noel and I worked for a good part of a year to weigh the pros and cons.
But as we dove into the topic, we began to see that it was not so simple as pros and cons. There were so much under the surface tied to our own childhood experiences, our limiting beliefs, and most importantly, our fears.
The reasons that held us back were numerous. The powerful, underlying belief that birth and pain are one. The toxic ideology both in the east and west that the female body and its monthly cycle is inherently unsanitary. Related to that, a deeply rooted eastern view that it is a woman’s duty to bear children to fulfill her filial responsibility. Then, there is also the fear that we are unprepared mentally, emotionally, and financially. And last but not least, the looming problem of overpopulation and of a future generation inheriting our environmental catastrophes.
Duty and responsibility, pain and fear. These dark thoughts weighed heavily on me. I was reminded of my teenage years and the first time the question, “What is the meaning of life?” came to me and how my answers – there is no meaning, all is suffering, all is samsara – brought a deep sense of disillusionment and emptiness.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”Mary Oliver
In those anguished moments, sometimes heartbreaking between Noel and me as we talked through our long list of fears, each taking turns rising in hope and quickly shrinking in fear, I saw clearly how much this pained us.
I thought of all the times it has been painful to choose love. How often we broke each other’s hearts. And why we choose it still.
And I knew my heart’s answer. I knew it the way flowers and animals know how to choose life without ever questioning its purpose or its pains. Not because it would be a sin to forsake life. But because when I look at a sunset, when I admire a flower, when I fall in love, I know it’s right and true. I know pain is part of it, but it’s not all of it.
“There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.”Albert Einstein
Little by little, we rose in hope and our fears shrank a little more and a little more. And our child grows as we grew.
Now as I enter the last stretch of my pregnancy, I feel more than ever that this entire process is undeniably beautiful. And it happens every second of every day among all living things. Over and over, life chooses life. And I’m glad we too are taking part in that great dance.