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