Between Worlds: On Waiting to Become a Mother to Two

The nearly-full November moon rises from behind the mountains on Tahoe’s east shore.  I’ve watched the skies over the past months, as each wax and wane marked an opening, a welcoming, a greater preparedness for the coming of our son.

I lay on my left side, one pillow tucked under my head, another between my knees, the only comfortable way to rest during the last month of pregnancy.  My son swishes and swirls in my belly the way water rushes in a plastic baggie being tossed about.

I take note of this pause in the goings on of life.

Over the past weeks, life has stripped away layer-by-layer – coaching calls and other work-related commitments, exercise classes and social engagements. As I’ve checked off the boxes of birth and postpartum-related preparations, a unique stillness has emerged.

This is the experience on top of which we create all of our busy-ness. This is what we unconsciously avoid, though we say we wish we had more of it – this free time, this still time, this time of nothingness. And for about the duration of a breath, maybe three, I gratefully take in the opportunity.

And then, the tears.

In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rites, when participants no longer hold their preritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. During a rite’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which completing the rite establishes. (Source)

Over the past weeks, as I’ve shed layers of an identity that has already been left unrecognizable to what it was 5 years ago, prior to my marriage, move, and first years of motherhood, new questions have started to arise about this next phase of life:

What is most important now?

How will I maintain the intimacy I’ve developed with my daughter as we welcome in her brother? How will I give him the same devotion that she received as our only one?

What one or two commitments outside of motherhood do I want to hold on to through this next season?

What do Dave and I need to continue to fortify our marriage through this time?

Who am I now to friends old and new?

The lake takes on pink and purple hues.

Once on a mission to create a nonprofit that changed the lives of thousands of girls, my days now center not on the far reach out there but on the depth and strength of what’s closest in.

Am I living my values in my own life? Am I being present with my daughter, providing her the environment to cultivate her creativity, thrive in her spirit, and be strong in her voice? Are my closest relationships – family and friends – getting the best of what I have to give?

The goal now is to not “save the world” but to be awake to life and to really be with the people right in front of me in it.

Today, presence in the liminal space – the bridge between worlds of mother to one and mother to two – is whole. There is excitement and gratitude and trust and also grief and loneliness and love.

“…and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.”

-Mary Oliver

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