Cesar – 1,5 months young
This is a continuation to Utter Dependence & Access to Life | Part 1
In my previous blogpost I mentioned how the first three months were the hardest, as my baby needed my constant availability to meet his needs.
Here, I faced an interesting point, because even though no-one can deny that it is physically intensive to tend to another being 24/7 for three months, it wasn’t the physical ‘toughness’ which hit me the most – but the mental wall I hit.
I was in a constant friction between meeting my baby’s needs and meeting my own ‘needs’.
Practically speaking, all my needs were actually taken care of. I had a comfortable room, I got access to plenty of food and water, I was able to rest for moments and tend to my hygiene.
The ‘needs’ which weren’t getting met where my mental needs. These were the collective of all the things I believed I ‘should be doing’ and ‘should be getting’. I thought it was wrong to spend every moment of every day tending to my baby. I needed to ‘do something’, I needed to ‘be productive’. In how I was raised, much emphasis was given to the value of achievement and producing tangible results. Not only at home or in school, but also in the general system/society we’ve set up. Unless you’re doing something productive, unless you are contributing (in the sense of how ‘productivity’ and ‘contribution’ are defined within material accumulation) – you are useless and you must be lazy/evil/selfish. We see this in the way the labour system is set up – unless you are working and you are employed and functioning as a ‘human resource’, you will not receive (sufficient) income to live a dignified life.
I was restless, I shouldn’t have to be taking care of this ‘needy’ being. I should be doing things, making things. I honestly believed that these ‘urges’ were a reflection of positive ambitions within myself, that I was ‘wanting to be a good person’ and ‘contribute to the whole’. But then why was I stressing out so much about it, why was this restlessness almost painful?
As I looked deeper into my ambitions, I noticed they were not in fact ‘positive reflections’ of who I am, but were actually stemming from deeply negative fears and feelings inside myself. I wasn’t truly interested in being ambitious and being productive, I was driving myself to be so in order to get away from the dark nagging feeling inside myself, that if I were not to pursue these ambitions, that if I were not to be ‘productive’ = that I will be rejected, that I will be ostracized, that I will be excluded from the community, from society and be left to fend for myself. I was afraid that ‘Who I Am’ as a being is not enough, and that it is all about ‘what I do’.
I tried to push for being productive, for engaging in ‘work’ – to show my value, to show that ‘I am needed’ and not completely useless. But for me to pursue this, I had to compromise my baby’s needs. I had to ignore him to ‘get to my own things’. And he grew increasingly unhappier and unhappier. Inside myself, I was feeling more comfortable, because I was engaging myself, the fear of being useless wasn’t so prominent – but now I am in a situation with a deeply unhappy baby; and so inner conflict and turmoil still remained, they just shifted sides. I managed to appease my inner reality, but now my external reality was in distress.
So, tired of all the conflict, friction and turmoil – I took a moment to stop, to pause and re-evaluate everything which I was doing and how what I was participating within was affecting my child.
My inherent fear that who I am as Life is not good enough, was a belief so entrenched within myself that I felt the need to constantly prove my worth. In doing so, I was consequently no longer meeting my child’s needs in order to appease my own fears and self-worth insecurities. But within doing so, I was creating an environment for my child where HIS worth, HIS value was being undermined. He was in agony, his needs are not being met – are his needs not worth of being met? Is his Life not valuable enough to be completely secured?
Unintentionally, by wanting to avoid my own sense of worthlessness, this was exactly what I was creating for my child.
I was (and still am) in a unique situation. I live with a group of people who can support me and the livelihood of my child and myself where my financial stability remained the same whether I was being ‘productive’ or not. I had a choice. I did not have to insist on working, I had in fact the choice to dedicate myself to taking care of my baby completely and absolutely, without this compromising my livelihood.
So I made a decision. I will be there for my baby, absolutely.
Obviously this is easier said than done. As I was living the decision to dedicate myself to my baby absolutely, many fears, insecurities, frictions and doubts would still rise up. These were deeply ingrained within my unconscious mind from my own upbringing. The only way I could stand by and live my decision, was to investigate all the thoughts, emotions and feelings which would come up, to forgive myself for them and let them go. The only way I could state and secure my child’s worth in this world, was by stating and securing mine (which honestly, would have been a lot more difficult, if not impossible had it not been for the supportive environment I live in).
I had to redefine worth and value for myself, to see, recognize, realise and live the worth and value of taking care of another being, another life – who as a baby was completely helpless, dependent and physically incapable of any ‘productive input’. Yet when you look into a baby’s eyes – you know, you see that they have the right to life, you know they have the right to be here and live a fulfilling life. Yet despite this knowledge, we’ve somehow still managed to create a world system and environment which constantly pushes people to the brink of survival, constantly pushing people to compromise on living for the sake of acquiring just the necessary resources to ‘make it another day’. A system that insists you are not good enough and need to constantly prove your worth, where you need to compete because if you’re not up for the job – well, you can simply be replaced.
For several months – I was no-one, I was nothing, I was just darkness. Who I was as the person I used to be and live, the personality I had accustomed to identify myself with as ‘who I am’ as all my hopes, dreams, fears and desires – was non-existent. There was a complete silence within myself. All I did was serve. I served my baby and his life in every moment of every day, and in doing so I served my own.
Is this the perfect way to come into being into this world? I would say no.
Looking at my son, he hated being completely helpless and dependent. He hated that his every need was dependent on a responsiveness of my own.
Is it necessary? At the moment I would say yes.
The manifestation of a baby as a completely helpless and dependent being – forces us to push to the absolute extreme realisation that we are in fact interdependent. That ‘no-one’ is an island. That every individual person’s actions affects the whole.
That for a child to come into this world and realise its utmost potential, we have to stand as the living example. If we want the child to grow up accepting and realising its self-worth, we must stand as an environment which resonates this. If a child comes into the world in an environment of compromise, of conditionality – then that is what the child will integrate and become. We can’t have one without the other. We can’t bring children into this world, seeing them as a fresh new start and believing it is ‘all up to them’ to make a brighter future. It is for us to set the foundation in place.
Does that mean that I will keep tending to my child’s every need into eternity and protect him from the outside dysfunctional world into eternity? No
The transition of the child to move from helplessness and complete dependence to one of being capable and independent (in so far that we can, really be ‘independent’) is a process. As he moves and grows, my services, my ‘interventions’ become less and less. My availability remains constant, but the frequency that this availability is being called upon diminishes and diminished overtime.
He learns that he is not dependent on myself as the mother with the breasts and the breastmilk to fill his tummy. There are other resources available. He learns that I am there when I need him which translates into self-confidence and self-reliance. He learns that he can give himself direction, but that I will be there when he finds himself in an unknown situation. From this unknown situation and my presence, his learns and integrates new perspectives which he next time can apply on his own.
Securing and dignifying his being, his presence and life – he learns that others deserve the same treatment. He learns to look at situations within the consideration of not only what is best for him but what is best for everyone.
There’s often a fear that gets expressed when seeing someone take care of a baby’s every need that he will become dependent, immature – emotionally attached forevermore. That we need to show the child that the world is ‘a hard place’, ‘that nothing comes easy’ and that ‘they better get used to it’.
This is a false dilemma – as if there is no other way than preparing your child for the harsh reality we live him by deliberately instilling a sense of insecurity inside themselves. We can in fact, provide a sound foundation in the child’s life – where his self-worth and self-appreciation is so absolute that no matter the challenges he or she will face in life, he or she will not doubt one’s ability to respond to these challenges – and to look, see and analyse any and all situations from a practical common sense perspective; rather than coming from a fear of losing its self-worth and seeing that self-worth being entirely dependent on how their external environment treats them.
Dependency, immaturity and emotional attachment come about when one’s self-worth is NOT secured, when one’s self-value is NOT dignified – and forevermore seek out confirmation from our environment that we are allowed to be here, that we are allowed to express ourselves. Every action, experience and move we make – is fear driven, driven by the belief that we are not worthy and dependent on others to give it to us.
(Funny enough, before I was cooking up this post I was reading a book about horses and the human-horse relationship, where their ‘fight or flight’ stress response was compared to that of a child where many similarities were found. Here a little snippet on the research done around this subject:
“Biological psychology researcher Megan Gunnar and her colleagues did infant studies that confirmed animal research findings. In their work, infants three months of age who received consistent responsive care produced less cortisol. Also, eighteen-month-olds classified as insecurely attached (who had received lower levels of responsiveness) revealed elevated levels of stress hormone.7 These same children at age two continued to show elevated levels of cortisol and appeared more fearful and inhibited. Again, these children were those who had been classified as having lower levels of maternal responsiveness.8 Other investigations have confirmed these findings.9 Dr. Gunnar reports that the level of stress experienced in infancy permanently shapes the stress responses in the brain, which then affect memory, attention, and emotion.10”
The horse book (Tao of Equus) also made reference to the work of Dianna Hine)