As I stumble into my early thirties, thoughts of motherhood begin to sift into my mind. I’ve sat with the idea of what I would be like as a mother and how I would attempt to raise my children. I find myself doubting my true character; being in this world and having a relatively conscious awareness of my existence, I find my habits are still poor.
Worsley, I must admit most of them are fully chosen and even though I “know” what is best for me, I still go back to those retched cycles of self-torture. That instant high that “isn’t worth it” anymore, but clearly is because I keep going back. Trial and error and a decade of that. Of course, it hasn’t been completely stagnant, and I’ve made improvements along the way -- evolving in such a way that surprised even myself.
I don’t drink every day and that is success to me. There were two blurry years of my life that were, well, blurry. They were consumed by unyielding self-pity, suffering, and booze. Lots and lots of wine, whiskey, maybe beer, but regardless the mood, always alcohol. I was drowning in it and only a few really knew. I was partly functional due to having a job and a steady income, though two bottles a night, sometimes three, with an overspending problem that kept me on the grind; I hated it so much.
Sometimes I smoked too much, sometimes I'd buy tequila randomly and enjoy tipsy smoothies alone, and sometimes I'd eat wayyy too many cheese puffs in a sitting. Health has been sacrificed more than I would like to admit.
I fear the way I treat my animals is the way I’ll treat my future children. My random bursts of frustration because I’ve let everything build up are weeks of irritation and feeling unappreciated, terrify me. This bottomless pit of rage, shame, and guilt just weigh heavy on me.
I don’t like raising my voice and the more I resist doing it, the more it comes out – and the louder. I become like that one thunderstorm that you didn’t see coming and the sky grows completely dark. There’s zero trace of any of the blue sky that was beautiful only several minutes ago.
Up out of hell, it silences the day and presses its darkness into the Earth, howling upon its grounding. It gathers itself swiftly and widens the eyes of anyone in its presence. It engulfs the lake it’s chosen to make its first contact with as it knows its worth and its connection to the fluid surface below. Together the rain and the water will reunite as one and build together and nothing can stop it. It has full control of itself and just let’s go.
The storm doesn’t stop for the family at the beach who were all finally able to get off work at the same time cause mommy and daddy work overtime lately so that they can afford the mortgage that was too much to afford, nearly sinking into their whole savings; so how will they afford presents?
The storm doesn’t stop in spite of the consequences of a flipped boat with a teenager acting too cool to wear a life vest, who may learn a little early in life that the reality of death is inevitable, and while he may not be near to death in his experience, he feels the vapid flux of fear take over his body for the first time in his life, and his eyes, widen too, as he becomes vulnerable in a way the world and people around him never let him.
The storm doesn’t stop for the gardener who had a long day and doesn’t have the energy left to grab all his plants he had been harvesting to enjoy for the next month, The storm doesn’t yield for the nearly ripened eggplant that was a “miracle” due to the weather that year, which is about to get completely drowned by the upcoming heavy rains.
The storm never slows. She just encloses herself around everything, and anyone that happens to be in her path. She is heavy rains, monstrous winds, deathly lightening, followed by the lowest bellows of the Earth. She shakes the soil itself with her rhythm and her urgency to just release. She flows mercilessly through time and takes center stage as she performs her greatest show yet.
Her epic ballad pours out unsolicited for an unnerving audience. She ripples across the stage as if it was her time to take full control of the scenery. It was her moment, and she gives it her all.
That is just a brief description of what those emotions truly feel like. What I experience from time to time when I have been pushed to my limit. Luckily, I have gotten better over the years with where I harness it. By that I mean, I have gotten better at navigating my storm and I don’t touch the earth until I am away from the presence of any other being. I am better at rushing to the car and fill the void with thunderous screams. Screams that blind you so much you must pull over on a dirt road or pull into a ditch because the rain won’t stop pouring.
At one point, I taught myself to scream inside my head and pretend I was releasing the anger. I was lying to myself. I created a terrarium of emotions inside myself, and the storm stayed within. As you can imagine, that didn’t last forever. Once, I was escaping a discomforting thought and jumped into the car to head to the liquor store.
It was night and fortunately the tears were dry. That scream though. With everything I had, I released it all. Exactly the way that storm I witnessed roughly fifteen years ago while lifeguarding. I can still remember parents running into the water to grab their kids and haul them up the hill to head home immediately. No children begged nor pleaded to stay. The darkness of the sky was enough for everyone to run in obvious, but shushed horror.
I quickly grabbed my belongings and tossed them inside our shed we had set up for lifeguard materials and safety equipment. Fortunately, it was large enough to fit myself and the gear.
Though there was no room to hide on this car ride and nothing holding me back. Like the sky, I blacked out and darkness overcame me. Adrenaline shortly rushed into my brain, and I became me again. I laughed at the idea of a scream honestly making me black out and how odd it really felt.
Now I remember that as a child, this happened all too often, and in moments of anticipation of injury or being watched too intensely (too much attention on a playful accident), I would completely disappear from my consciousness. I cannot tell you when it started or its origin story, as I, too, am still in the storm and in the dark on the matter. That saddens me, as it is something I hope to someday confront in hopes of healing whatever wound continuously causes it.
It saddens me knowing that little curly haired blue-eyed girl felt so overwhelmed and invaded that she had to escape fully. She had to hid within herself to the point of blackness. I had found a way to disappear within my own being and did so without my body’s permission.
I do make sacrifices though, that surrender and pause my life in ways that otherwise would shift the means of the outcome of my own personal growth. While I am aware that I have made the choice to have this many animals, I feel this sense of obligation for nurturing for them and ensuring they have comfortable and fun lives.
I’m not concerned with lavish stimulation, though I feel a sense of excitement when the cats ACTUALLY play with their toys and the dogs absolutely lose it when I bring home bones after my trip away from home.
Though are those sacrifices enough? I don’t feel they negate the unhealed rage that becomes a storm every so often. How can I be worthy of motherhood if I have not made peace with the past and rid myself of toxins and the painful cycles generationally bound to me? How can I create another human and allow it to enter into my space that I so often cannot make sense of?
Even now, the agitation of not being able to finish a piece of writing because my guilt beckons me to the door to accompany the dogs outside in fear that our youngest dog, Lucy, will run away again, and I will feel the anxiety of having to search for her in a not so friendly neighborhood. Though she is begging at the door to be let out to have some fun and release at least a fourth of her energy that is just purely in her nature, but we don’t have the space, or outdoor fencing for.
A duplex with 10 animals cohabitating with myself and my partner is exhausting at times. Yes, I have considered rehoming several, but I’m picky and in a college town in the deep South, it seems everyone else has their own issues. In addition to the overpopulation problem and college students typically only keep their cuddly, yet soon to be temporary, fur babies until it’s time to return home and they discover their parents aren’t willing to budge on letting them return with them.
So, Facebook groups get flooded with abandoned pets, and frankly, I don’t trust people to love my animals the way I do. Call me selfish, but even though I may choose myself over them sometimes (i.e. buying something for myself instead of them, even though I know they’d love the treat), I believe I do my absolute best to spoil them. The way they cuddle and coexist together in a relatively calm (for 10 animals) way, I see the appreciation they have living here in this different space.
So, you see, I don’t believe I deserve to have children. At least not yet. Not until I believe in myself more. It is the least I can do for future eager children who just want to play and enjoy the follies of life. The little joys that maybe some of us enjoyed as kids, but who also never learned where to release their emotions.
I know storms are inevitable in life and are unavoidable. I refuse to be my children’s storm or the storm that hits, even if it is only once a year. I can only fathom what kind of hurricane or monsoon that would be. It would be unbearable, and the damage done would be irreversible. The healing process would be too great, and rebuilding might not always be an option with such a force of destruction.
I never want to be a natural disaster to my children -- a storm so cruel it shreds the foundation of my children’s hearts that they so much as question their worth. I grew up in a world where adulthood was not so kind as I witnessed many slip into their vices, having trouble healing those traps whilst dealing with eager, curious, and immensely passionate children. We both experienced the consequences of our existence with one another.
In no way am I pointing fingers, as life is fickle and we all are struggling to find the rhythm to our own healing, whether it be screaming into the void on a car ride, taking a nature walk, doing morning yoga, coloring for an hour, etc. This is what makes us human. Even now, as I continue on with this piece, as I had taken a brief hiatus from it, see the massive shift in my being.
I write more now. Before work, I rise earlier before the southern sun, just so I can enjoy a delicious cup of home brewed coffee while I tend to my morning chores that I've assigned myself. I ensure I grant myself enough time to let the dogs play, feed the cats and clean their litter, do any dishes sitting out from the night before, and maybe even let Larry (our wonderful robot vacuum) perform his magic!
I'm finding my rhythm, my true source of solitude in sometimes a chaotic morning. Jazz is a morning must. It has turned our current home into a soothing space, filled with piano, sweet rattling and soulful moments. Incense drifts delicately into my nostrils as I prep for the work day. I've become the perfect storm. In a way that offers spring a new beginning. Where the rain gets heavy, but you're happy its here because you know sunny days are ahead.
She brings in new birth, where overnight flowers blossom as if it's their only purpose. She sweeps across the nation, dusting off pollen coated on hundreds of thousands of cars. In her efforts, she calms the day, bringing in softer Mondays and lazier Sundays. She dances across the town, reminding us it's okay to rest inside as we make way for the new season. She is silly, she is sweet, she is refreshing, and she is oh, so kind.
Maybe I'm not ready for children just yet, but I'm honored to even know they could someday exist. What a beautiful miracle even that is.
About the Creator
I am the moss silken on watered stones, rooted deep in rich soil. Earthen creature, I am the night sky -starry and strayed from the forgotten path of poets - I am, the chatter from the iron rails rattling as the train carries itself home.
It takes a lot of courage to be honest with oneself about one's flaws and shortcomings, and even more courage to share those flaws with others. Your self-awareness is admirable, and your willingness to confront and work through your negative habits is inspiring. It's natural to feel uncertain and even fearful about motherhood, especially when considering how one's own behavior might impact their children. However, recognizing the potential areas where you need to improve is a crucial first step in becoming the kind of parent you want to be. Your description of the storm and the emotions it brings is vivid and powerful. It's clear that you have a lot of passion and intensity, and with time and practice, you can learn to harness that energy in a positive way. Keep striving towards your goal of being a lighthouse, a source of guidance and inspiration for others.