There appears to be extensive cultural pressure to perform uncomplicated happiness about a vastly complex and challenging set of new circumstances.
So grateful for this Finn - as I read I could feel myself expanding to welcome my own ambivalence and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next. Looking forward to future writing…
This is so true, at every stage of life. Feeling “not enough” is enhanced by our culture, and I am thankful I see someone like you questioning why everything must always be “bigger and better “.
So glad to hear from you!
Both/and. Multivalent. Will there ever come a time when society/any culture, has the capacity to bear witness to another's life experience without pigeon-holing us? As I've said before, not only are we the ancestors of the future (Which is now), but you are forging a new archetype that is sorely needed. You are at the forefront and you are not alone (although it must assuredly feel that way at times). May you heal at your own pace and in your own time in a way that feels true for you.
This is really lovely. "worthwhile in all its weirdness"
Thanks for including Mother Brain here.
So good to see you back in this space! I've been thinking a lot about "mothering" and "fathering" lately and I'm grateful for how your words help me to continue to shift what is possible ✨
Glad you're back, Finn. I just love your writing.
Thank you so much for this. And for expanding the expectations v. reality beyond motherhood. I wonder if part of it is that popular culture often has the story of decides on a goal/works hard/achieves it/overcomes all obstacles in a humorous or nonchalant way. So real life challenges, in any aspect, seem unreal or daunting.
Welcome back, Finn! There is so much insight in your piece, but this struck me especially:
“It seems to me that if something ‘sticks out’ from our experience as it relates to the dominant narrative—if we’re feeling sad, ambivalent, or numb when we’re told we should be feeling happy, or vice versa—there’s probably more of a story there, and it’s probably worthwhile in all its weirdness. It’s a story we should explore on its own merits, not for the sake of fixing or adjusting it to match some other narrative.”
I’ve been trying to sort out how I feel about my ongoing infertility. After my fifth unsuccessful fertility cycle this year, I’m feeling a weird kind of acceptance creeping in, when it seems I “should” be feeling sadness or despair. I feel almost ready to stop trying, when it seems like I “should” be doubling down on my efforts. I find myself thinking a lot more about travel and adventure and what I’ll do when I’m finally unchained from the tyranny of these monthly treatments, and I’m kind of excited about it. I’m also feeling hope about the possibility of adopting an older child, of jumping right to the part where they can hike and camp with me, and skipping the sleepless nights and tantrums and endless shoelace-tying.
Yet there is also profound grief. The other day I said out loud to someone that I’m near the end of the road with my treatments, and tears started pouring out of me uncontrollably. I think I keep going with fertility procedures in order to postpone the inevitable grieving process more so than out of any belief that it will result in a baby. Someone in one of my support groups said she needed to try everything possible to conceive so she’d know it wasn’t her fault. That’s it. That’s where I am. Checking off all the boxes before I can leave that dream behind.
I know you went through something similar. Can you point me to any pieces of your writing that explore this?
Thank you for your brilliant writing. Your words are important.
This is wonderful. I am so struck by the part about sticking outside the box. The image and the resulting thoughts about it are very interesting and thought provoking to me right now.
I am with you on the "bigger and better". Why is that always the assumption/what it has to be? It bugs me like the "go big or go home" mantra. Why? What is wrong with slow or small or right-sized for one's own circumstance.
Finally catching up here Finn- SO good to hear from you! I wish when I was a new mother I’d had this wisdom, this permission to be ambivalent. Such a gift. And I love those images. They so viscerally illuminate my well cultured training to make things “fit”. Go with what sticks out is so liberating and permission to follow our heart.
Hugs to you!