James K. Baxter, NZ Poet, wrote:
“Alone we are born
And die alone;”
What a crock of crap!
Orson Welles may have said something along those lines, too. As did some rap guy called Wilco. Notice those three are men?
Yes, I get it: life can be lonely. I know about that. I know about that existential gap that makes you wonder what part yourself is missing. I get it. Why should you bother opening the curtains in the morning just to close them at night? I get it. Why do we continue to procreate in a world that is often very bleak seeming? I get that question, too.
I try not to swim in the oceanic chasm of grief if I can avoid it, but it’s there. I get it. However:
Any mother knows that she was not born into the world alone.
Aside from the midwife, father, grandmother, and helpful obstetrician who turned my side facing daughter posterior facing – my daughter was born to a roomful of well wishes from our community. There were people all over the planet thinking about her when she came into this world (maybe only half a dozen people but people all over the planet none-the-less). And these people, if only in the short term, were wanting the best for her. My co-workers had showered her with knitting and baking before she even experienced womb liberation. She had been fed by their kindness and generosity. Thousands of tax dollars from a range of citizens were spent on her care, because people value new life. She was not born alone.
Aside from that, my daughter was born to a mother who had nothing but hope (and a bit of trepidation) that this parenting thing was going to go well and that this kid was going to be an amazing addition to earth. She might not be but I hoped. People don’t have babies (even unplanned ones) without harbouring that secret belief that this child could make life better. With babies, life can get harder, but that hope of better marks a child upon arrival like a blessing. Or like that ancient magic that Lily put on Harry Potter.
The experience of giving birth reminds me that a woman gave birth to me in similar circumstances.
How my mother parented aside**; there were gifts, there were tax dollars, there was hope that I’d be pretty cool.
You won’t remember it and you may not be aware of it but from your birth you’ve carried all that goodwill with you.
Do not forget: You are somebody’s best effort. Do not forget: As a bump in some woman’s belly, you made little old ladies smile and reminisce. Do not forget: A wash of goodwill and good intention met you at your birth.
This isn’t to say that life doesn’t knock you around a bit. This isn’t to say all parents are good parents. This isn’t to say that the people you love and who love you won’t let you down sometimes. This is only to say, you were not born alone.
Sometimes we live alone. This is not the same as being born alone.
Sometimes we feel lonely. This is not the same as being born alone.
And if we weren’t born alone, then James K. Baxter, Orson Welles and Wilco are probably wrong about dying alone, too! As a mother, you should know this much is true.
**Just for the record, my mother parented pretty darn well. And I am pretty cool.