not school

What today has looked like so far at our house:

Things we've talked about:
anarchism
the concept of "laziness"
what it means to be "free" in our society
social engineering
planned helplessness
the class system
Greek mythology
the diet of ancient humans
the difference between "diet" and "dieting"
types and causes of eating disorders 

Activities:
sleeping until awake
talking to and holding chickens
making an alphabet book with faces and names
asking and answering spelling questions
making up imaginary scenarios with dolls
making cookies
playing outside
singing
playing piano
having a friend over to play
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Mine Craft

This is the process of learning and growth that makes sense to us. To layer "class time", lectures, assignments, reports, tests and grades etc. over it is worse than unnecessary, it would be a distraction, an obscuration, and ultimately a barrier. I don't think school is inherently bad or wrong, but its function in its present form in our society is not, after all, to foster a love of learning, exploration, and invention.

instructions for my husband during birth

Accept and appreciate that in this process there are shifts in consciousness and body chemistry that manifest in many ways. Be understanding when my priorities change to reflect this, and stand by my side while I am in it -- slow down, quiet yourself, listen.

Take over more than your usual share of the care and maintenance of our lives, because I will be in recovery from a major change and exertion in emotional and physical energy.

Be affectionate, loving, and passionate. Remember that I am still in need of these things, even if I do not have the energy to reciprocate, and that the oxytocin that results is good for both of us and our relationship.

During labor, do not encourage, cajol, guide, or ask questions unless absolutely necessary. Simply be there to affirm and support. Look to see that conditions are clean and warm and comfortable, and set food and water within my reach. Lovingly tend to the children if they are present; take care of their needs first. Rest when you are tired, but be ready to wake and come to my side if I need you. Stay close so that I can choose to go to you or not, and if I do, wrap your arms around me and murmur lovingly to me. Be calm, and above all be loving. If you feel stress or fear, leave and return only when you feel strong and positive again. When the baby is born be still and quiet. Be watchful for my cues. When I am ready help me move to a comfortable place and clean up.

Postpartum, let me sleep. Bring me food and drink. Do the laundry. Take care of our children; engage them and attend to them. Check in with me often (I will not want to yell for you.) Protect our space; do not let anyone in that I have not previously approved. Let me know, often, how much you love me and what a wonderful baby it is that we have made together. ♥
"We have to create culture, don't watch TV, don't read magazines, don't even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you're worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you're giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told 'no', we're unimportant, we're peripheral. 'Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.' And then you're a player, you don't want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that's being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world." 
--Terence McKenna
So, I was going to have a baby, and I'm not going to have a baby anymore. This was an interesting and good thing to happen to me and I'm going to try to explain why.

I'm old. At this age, just about nobody here has babies unless they are Quiverfull or are desperately trying for their first or second (never found a mate, met their mate in middle age, focused on career for most of their adult life, fertility issues.) In my community the exceptions don't even apply; women are educated and married and have their babies in the "proper" stage of life, in the decade between 25 and 35 or so.

Also, I already have four children. People have different reasons for why they disapprove of large families, but almost universally they do indeed disapprove.

Also, I'm aware that statistically genetic anomalies are more likely at my age (and the age of the baby's father.)

I felt anxiety about all these things. But, my partner was not only supportive but happy, and that was very romantic and lovely. And, I am naturally an Eeyore and seriously identify with the writer of Ecclesiastes, but not particularly happily or willingly, which means that to have a natural mission and purpose is greatly appealing to me. So I had mostly decided to go forward with it, but to keep quiet about it as long as possible.

I began to feel better and better. In fact, I felt great. My hip and pelvic pain disappeared, and I was energized both mentally and physically. I felt like I was on a happy drug, and the happier I got the happier I got. It built on itself. Biology is such a powerful thing. And of course that good feeling rippled out into my family. I was more loving, kinder, more considerate. I was so happy to be with them, so grateful. I hadn't ever really let myself enjoy pregnancy before, I was realizing. I always felt a little ashamed, like I shouldn't be doing this. I was thinking: I should be contributing to society, I should be doing impressive things, breeders are ruining the environment, I am so tired and grumpy from running around after little kids, and we can hardly afford basic necessities as it is. But now I am old and much more haughty and selfish, I guess. It is easier to not let it get to me when people judge me. I have a sense of there being things that are much more important; that there will always be pain and suffering and the world will continue to be misused and population will grow exponentially, but I can love and feel love and have experiences that humans are supposed to have and report back on them; with the hopelessness of everything, that is the one true power I have. It is the point of it all. Come with me and love, and we will die, and we may get sick, and we may be hungry, but at least we will have loved. If it is between a long, comfortable life and ecstasy, I will take the ecstasy. They're not inherently mutually exclusive, of course, but so often the things we do to try to guarantee the former eat away at the latter until it has disappeared except for fleeting moments here and there. That is a tragedy, it seems to me, more than any death or suffering.

So, here I was, getting to embark on this unusual and disapproved-of course, and really being happy about it. And feeling sad that for various cultural and practical reasons throughout history, women haven't felt it. I guess that it hasn't been the norm for a long time. Even for those in the approved status group it isn't, still. How different would the world be if women's conditions were such that they didn't feel conflicted about pregnancy and children, always to some degree a burden or a guilty luxury? How different would individual lives be? I am talking about Eden, I realize, but I was inside of it. It exists still; it is possible. I want to yell out to women everywhere, "Take it back! Don't let them steal it from you!" No matter what else is going on, how dire our circumstances, this is something that we are supposed to have. It's written into our very cells. I wish we could have it always, all of us.

***


Wednesday, on my 45th birthday, I started bleeding. Through my mind ran all the possible causes and I paid close attention to where the pain was coming from and the degree. I did not take pain medication because I wanted to know exactly what was going on. I decided finally that most likely I was experiencing a normal miscarriage. I remained watchful. Flow became heavy with small shiny dark red clots or pieces of tissue. I was tired, oh so tired. I wanted to sleep a deep sleep all the time, like the kind of sleep you fall into when you've been doing hard physical work all day and come home to a soft bed. It was nice. My sleep was filled with watercolor dreams, where there is no plot or dialogue, just flowing images. I was dreamy while awake too, in an altered state of consciousness, in a liminal space. Everything around me took on an Edenic cast, especially outside, whether sunlight on greenery or grey mist. I did not particularly want to see people but when I did I loved them. I told a few women and they were caring and I just loved them. I didn't care for the moment about noise and pollution and greed, I saw shapes and color and movement and coruscation and I loved it. I was serene and at peace. I continued to bleed, more than I can remember ever having done.

Today I am feeling back to normal. The bleeding has mostly subsided. I feel the lack of all there was. I feel emptied.

I was only six weeks (and I realize that this is only my experience, and others experience it differently) so there was nothing in the way of the loss of a known person to mourn. I did not feel a soul come and go. But I am different, I am changed. I am not sad, exactly, but I feel tender, raw, and there is a lump in my throat. Tears come to my eyes easily.

A friend of mine said that she was sorry that she could not be more of a support, but she was actually the very support that I needed, in simply acknowledging that this was not nothing. For such a private person as I am, and someone who normally finds people annoying and tiresome and who is not particularly socially adept, it was interesting how much I did not want to keep this to myself. I had a desire to whisper to people (certain people) that it is here, here it is, do you see it, to pull them into it a bit, and to open my heart. It was an odd and lovely place to be.

I am not going to have a baby, but I'm glad that I was for a little while.