June 29th, 2016
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pregnancy and motherhood can be both a source of social detachment and foster an intense need for community, all at once. I’ve never felt simultaneously so siloed and also so much a part of the fabric of humanity than I have this past year, which hit me with endless contradictions. Pregnant, I felt incredibly special and also like a freak. I felt like an assembly-line conformist breeder and also an earth mama gushingly, glowingly, united with the cosmos (“like tripping on mushrooms!” is how a friend I once tripped mushrooms with described the weeks after birth, and you know what? She was right). I desired to link arms with every other pregnant woman in the world and also wanted desperately to escape back to a place where my identity was based on things like my tastes rather than the number of weeks “along” I was.
By its nature, motherhood calls for the kind of “it takes a village” collectivism that late-stage capitalism discourages. While pregnant or caring for an infant, we ought to be sitting in some sort of warm, earthy women’s tent type enclave with many generations of acquired wisdom around you and children rolling around in the earth at your feet communing with Gaia. Instead, we end up logging on in the early morning before our commutes, satisfying the desire for affirmation by trawling message boards that overflow with rancor and anxiety. A climactic, and powerful, moment in Elisa Albert’s recent novel After Birth—one of the spate of ambivalent mom novels that are all over shelves these days—occurs when the two lonely mother characters’ start breastfeeding each others’ babies, an incident based on Albert’s own life. By doing so, they are turning something companionless into something communal and shared, an act that feels risky, daring, and dangerous in the modern world perhaps because (as my post-yoga experience shows) choices around parenting are fraught and individual and divide us into “teams.”