*I wrote this a while back. It has taken this long to edit and post. All accounts of the gardens and sheep are not current 🙂
Adjusting to having a daughter has been surreal and overwhelming in every way possible.
There is anxiety that at any second I could make a mistake that might result in her being injured or worse. Pair that, with the change of going from working a high stress job with a three-hour daily commute to being at home for days on end. I went from talking to dozens of people every day to having only the company of the critters much of the time. It’s not totally horrible or unpleasant just, very different. All while healing from the corporal aftermath of pregnancy and birth. (Which IS mostly horrible and unpleasant.)
I judge a “good” day to be one where I keep the baby and other animals alive. A “great” day is one where I mange to keep the animals out of the gardens so the plants aren’t murdered by two and four-legged assailants. We (by which I mean my husband) have just started a new sheep pen, so of course the sheep have figured out how to get out of their old pen and have taken to escaping in turns and wreaking havoc on the less secure gardens.
Sometimes, I get to clean the house or eat (but not both.) Any attempts at art, writing and (let’s be honest) bathing; are so far down the list of “things to do when the baby is not clamped to my boob” they might as well not even be on it but… as this writing proves it CAN happen.
*Insert sinking feeling the sheep have gotten out again and go check the pen.*
Ok, they are still in.
Accomplishing the physical tasks each day demands has been so all-encompassing that adjusting to the mental aspect of raising a baby to womanhood in this world has only recently had time to surface. It has been easy to ignore the goings-on outside of our property but thanks to the internet, it takes about five minutes of Facebook and one gut wrenching video about how orangoutangs are starving to death due to deforestation for palm plantations- for me to burst into tears and have a serious freakout about the quality of the earth Persephone and The Boys will inherit.
I refuse to explain the trajectory of the human race to them with anything more sugar-coated than “humans are earth cancer.” I remember in 10th grade; there was a poster in my environmental sciences class room with an exponential curve on it denoting the earth’s population and feeling the distinct deep anxiety that we have exceeded the carrying capacity of our host organism.
Our way of living on this earth is not sustainable. The more people, the more stress on the environment and I just went and made it worse by creating ANOTHER human. Not to mention the struggle of helping a girl navigate the sociological climate of the USA. How have we come to such a place of destruction and violence against the earth and ourselves? How am I supposed to explain this to my newly minted daughter?! After I have willingly brought her into the world.
*Insert exetental freakout- followed closely by “are the sheep out?” freakout and a minute of deep breathing.*
*Check the baby to make sure SHE is still breathing.*
*Resist the urge to poke her to make sure that even though it looks like she is alive, she actually is.*
Ok, I’m back.
Looking out onto the garden reminds me that exponential growth is not always a bad thing. The fact that life has the ability to expand in such a way could be used to make things better. The activism of the youth has been heartening. The next generation is growing up in a world where we are reacting to the awareness of the reality that the system we are suspended in, is being consumed at an unstable rate. The actions that created this situation were not their own, the youth waste no time making excuses or justifications for these crimes, they accept and act otherwise.
All over the world, there are young people standing up for the earth and each other. In this time of constant access to global social media; the spread of knowledge, ideas and actions can be exponential too. The first step is an honest awareness of the impact your actions have on the world around you. This entails being mindful of the systems you contribute to; both directly and indirectly, and making conscious changes when you find your actions and your higher self at odds.
This is an unpleasant process. Self awareness and discipline are not humanity’s strong suite. It is far more pleasant to be selfish, especially when you are not dependent on the harvest from the field you tend and seeds you sow. It is the nature of our world that the successive generations inherit the impact of the current generation’s actions. In one century we have gone from progress’s rhetoric being one of “infallibility and expansion at all costs”- to, awareness of the impact that attitude has on the earth and subsequent conservation and change.
We are teetering on the edge of the end of humanity. On my most pessimistic days I fear we are already in free-fall and start looking for a suitable spot in the yard to dig a fallout shelter. I have to hope for the sake of my children that there is still time to make the changes necessary to deflect our current path, but it will not happen without a complete overhaul of the way we interact with the earth, starting with how we think of our place in it.
We are not lord and master over the earth and its other inhabitants. Scientifically humans are just another animal. I have felt that humans are earth cancer for most of my cognizant years. Cancer consumes without regard for the reality that it is killing its host. I can only hope that we can raise our daughter in such a way so that her generation becomes aware and motivated to forsake the culture of their forefathers and become the stuarts of the earth humans are meant to be.
We will teach her to respect the plants that grow on our land, that they are friends and medicine. We demonstrate how to treat her animal siblings with love and respect.
They are not our underlings; they are other nations, beings we must share this land with. We will teach her to listen to herself. The little voice that lives in her belly is often a better source of information than her logic and reason. We will teach her to defend herself because there will be a time when we will not be there to protect her from all those who seek to take that which does not belong to them.
We will do our best and pray for the rest.
We will teach her to dance in the rain, play in the mud, howl at the moon and that our love for this world is the reason we chose to bring her into it. This world is full of rocks and thorns, but it is beautiful none the less.
She was born from our hope for a future when we can correct our mistakes and own our shortcomings. For years I have told the boys; that one of the most important things they need to learn to do well, is to be wrong. We are all wrong daily but there is a tendency to make excuses for these common moments instead of using them as an opportunity to learn how to react humbly and correct misdirections. Owning our mistakes allow us to be better agents in this life.
The seasons offer tangible proof that extended periods of dark can be followed by brilliant light and growth. Growth leads to harvest as long as you can keep the sheep out.