5.06.2014

Happy Birthday, Thea Harper.

I don't think I'd be wrong if I said that every woman who has had a child can pinpoint a moment when they knew the earthy roundness of their body was rooted and bound to this earth while reaching heavenward to the ethereal.  There is a tension which balances delicately between that starlike etherea of carrying a child and the ruddy weight of bringing that child into the world.  That tension, as it has done for millions of years, manifests itself as both terrible and beautiful as we woman birth our babies.

The day before both of my kids came into this world, I remember the distinct feeling of heaviness, like I was carrying a whole galaxy inside my body.  Both times, as contractions began, I felt more like myself than maybe I ever have, like the galaxy spinning slowly inside was the very place I would always belong.

One year ago today, I knew Thea would be with us soon.  The next day was the birthday of a dear friend who had lost a baby through miscarriage earlier that year, and I really wanted Thea to come on that friend's birthday.  I believe in a God who grants us good-hearted miracles, and so even though Thea's actual due date was days away, those baritone contractions started around midnight.  The only way I can think to describe them is like the color of the deepest, richest dirt you can imagine.  Like palm-fulls of soil--the most real thing on this earth, and all the while, you are also heading toward the stars--some indescribable lightness you've never been to.  And so, after 20 hours, Thea came.  And thus began my first year as a mother to a daughter.  So deeply rooted in the primal dailyness of learning what it is to be a woman and watching another small person become one, while so often pulling ourselves up from that primal state and for moments at a time, living in a space that is far bigger and far more beautiful than anything this world can offer us.  The tension that both makes us human, and better than human.  Like when Thea threw up all over my Sunday dress and we stood together swaying in the hot shower for what seemed like hours, her flowery little body pressed up against mine, her round head fitted snugly in the nape of my neck.  Mothers and daughters are this way.
I will always think of Thea's first year as the year that I both found and lost my voice, (and also the year that Remy made Thea laugh and laugh.)  I lost my voice to time that no longer belonged to me, but I found a wiser voice in the few moments I had to use it.  I lost my voice as a growing small business, but found that there will be seasons to begin again.  I lost a floundering voice of doubt in my spirituality, and found a sturdy and honest voice that tells me that working through doubt can make us strong, but also soft and more believing. I lost my voice of cynicism within religion and exchanged it for a voice of gratitude that I belong in a space that teaches my children that there are miracles, and those miracles can belong to them.  I lost my voice that used to be harsh to my body and gained a voice that loves this body and its imperfections because I want my baby girl to love the realness and joy of her own body.  I sometimes lost my voice of sanity and calm, but learned that that's okay.  I lost the voices that tell me I am alone in motherhood and gained a thousand voices of solidarity.  I lost the wavering in my voice when I speak about a Heavenly Mother. I learned that siblings are a gift and that watching Remy and Thea together is far more wonderful than anything I could have planned for myself.  I gained the gentle and constant voice of a mother nature and realised how much I need her to help me raise my children.  I gained a deep love for a baby girl who's name means Goddess.  I hope to treat her as such because she has both rooted me deeply in love with this world and taught me that there is much much more.

Happy Birthday wise and gentle Thea Harper.  So many people love you.




8 comments:

Becca said...

Beautiful and poignant, as always.

Rachel (and Will) said...

So lovely, Ashley Mae. Give sweet Thea hundreds of kisses for all of us here in California.

The Wigginton Family said...

The best present I could ever have received is a birthday buddy like Thea Harper. Love you all! And happy birthday to us baby Thea--I love you across the world.

Megan Larson said...

Beautiful writing, Ashley Mae! You never cease to amaze me with your ability to put into words what most of us can only feel. Thank you.

Joseph said...

Beautiful beautiful! Like a cherry.

zben said...

Oh Ash, you always make me good cry. I love you and that little Thea fiercely. xoxo

Alice said...

beautiful and well said

Matt said...

Ash, I just read this and I want to give you a big hug.