July 06, 2009
I didn't do a very good job of counting the Omer this year. Maybe some of you noticed that I didn't blog about my Omer-counting as I've done in years past. (Counting the Omer, for those who've forgotten, is a journey of counting the days between the festival of Pesach and the festival of Shavuot, between liberation and covenant. Once upon a time it was an agricultural custom, linked to the spring barley harvest; today for many of us it's taken on mystical resonance, and becomes an opportunity to spend seven weeks contemplating a set of seven divine qualities in which we also partake.)
Anyway. I fell down on the Omer-counting job, because my mind was elsewhere this year during those seven weeks. During Pesach, I discovered that I was pregnant.
Those who've been reading this blog for more than a few months probably remember that I had a miscarriage in January, so the news that I was once again pregnant raised a lot of emotions. I began immediately to count days -- but not the days of the week of lovingkindness, the days of the week of boundaried strength, the days of the week of harmony. Instead I counted the days of being five weeks pregnant. Six weeks pregnant. Seven weeks pregnant. My goal was the magical end of the first trimester, when I would be able to share the happy news more broadly without (as much) fear.
As of this writing I'm in my eighteenth week, well into trimester #2. My body is changing, and so is my relationship with my body. I'm by turns amazed (apparently I am capable of growing a tiny human being without any conscious volition) and mildly chagrined (apparently my body would like to sleep eighteen hours a day, and to eat about twice as often as I used to do.) It's a great exercise in recognizing both what's miraculous about this embodied life, and also what's absolutely not within my control.
My spiritual director has said that this baby will be one of my greatest teachers. He's not suggesting that the baby will be some innate spiritual genius -- rather, that the act of becoming responsible for a tiny person's wellbeing will transform me. That parenthood will be a spiritual journey all its own. I don't doubt it. I'm excited to see how it changes me. How it changes us. And also, I hope, to discover what in our current life won't change -- what will be the constants on which we can count, as our lives turn upside-down in December.
What does this mean for Velveteen Rabbi? I don't see myself becoming a mommyblogger; those of you who are here for the Torah commentary and the poems will hopefully still have what to read, though it does seem only fair to warn you that my posting frequency will probably plummet for a while next winter at least. I will remain in rabbinic school, so the posts about my rab school experiences will still come down the pipe, though I anticipate taking fewer classes for a while after the baby is born.
Since this blog is one of the places where I think out loud about my religious life, the ups and downs of spiritual practice, and the lessons I'm learning (both from books and teachers, and from whatever experiences come my way), I'll probably post here from time to time about motherhood through that lens. I hope that there will be poems about motherhood, after a while. I'd like to do some writing and thinking about modes of Jewish practice which fit womens' needs -- I don't know which of the spiritual practices I maintain now will survive the transition into parenting a newborn, nor which new practices might emerge once we get into new rhythms. I guess in this, as in so many other things, I'll just have to figure it out as I go along.
Anyway. Ethan and I are elated, and nervous, and excited, and we wanted y'all to be able to share our joy!
Edited to add: Ethan's posted about this, too: The real life update.