for each of my two pregnancies, I had a naggy uncomfortable though wagging in the back of my brain : is this, this pregnancy, this birth, this baby going to weigh me down sot that i wont be able to advance in my career goals and dreams? i shared this fear with few, as it's implications seemed drastically selfish: was i really weighing bringing another being into the world with a few minutes of glory and name recognition ( as well as an inner feeling of accomplishment and progress of course?) the thought did not drag me down immensely, and eventually would disapate slightly throughout the 10 months in which the fetuz grew and took on a life of its own. in addition, both times i would use all excess energy i had to push myself to advance as quick as i could in my painterly and artistic pursuits until the Day Came.
when the Day Came and another life spewed from me, I found myself in an avalanche of activity, desperately trying to find my footing.
but the fear did not come to frution. instead, several things happened.
I found that my sense of fufillment expanded to the success of my family. As my husband's career progressed, I felt in a certain sense that my life was progressing and advancing as well. that I, through him, together with him, was advancing, was advnacing the purpose of the world. As my daughters grew and changed, I saw significance and meaning and accomplishment in my own life.
But the clincher lies in what happened when I actually did carve out some time for myself to paint or write: though the moments were few, what I did crank out had a quality and an integrity far beyond what I had done pre-child. For I was better. Thus my work was better. And while it may take me much, much longer to accomplish those dreams (say 10 years more than had I been childless), the product that I do produce will say a lot more, will affect people a lot more. And even if that artwork is hung up in the hallway of my child's school instead of the Guggenheim, its impact may be far deeper and better.
I have come to hypothesize that there is no loss of self with having children. There is certainly an additions of frustrations, additions of desperately trying to find time for yourself. but as the sense of "I" struggles and fights with the great waves of activitiy that threaten to bring it down, it find something there. Another way to gain it's footing. Another way to relate to itself and its purpose. And through that health of being, the self expands ten fold and comes to a greater, more accomplished peace and production than it ever had previously.
We do not lose ourselves when we have children. We gain ourselves; if we tap into it, the opportunity to have better,more interesting things to say and do and be. More fire in order to accomplish the impossible, to revolutionze the world. To be a mother is to advance in all senses of the word. Never fear pregnant mamas, overburdened immas, it is through our children that we become who we want to be. Just with more spit up stains to launder out.