May have time to get this all out before naptime is over. Since the Snapper runs the show round here, it’s always a gamble.
Whattayaknow? just heard some fusses. Let’s see if they go away.
Hum. He’s awake.
Post soon on motherhood and saving bunnies.
Wait. It’s quiet again. (don’t you love this blogging in real time?)
Motherhood has changed me in all sorts of surprising ways, from strengthening traits I was weak on (patience, ability to multitask, efficiency and productivity, and necessarily, humor) to supressing those I can no longer afford to indulge (selfishness, tendency to sleep in till noon, love for television and eating while food is still hot). Mainly, though, I’ve found that it has made me more me, amplified. For instance, we’re starting solids this week, and of course I went to the library to check out every book they had on feeding infants and of course I’ve chosen the incredible, encyclopedic “Super Baby Food” full of whole grain and vegetabley homemade goodness to guide the Snapper’s diet. I can’t afford to jump on and off the health train anymore; the child needs consistency, so I’m going to have to pretend I’m good at sticking with it.
Anyway. I’ve always been partial to Life issues, which for me run the gamut from abortion to animal treatment and hit poverty on a fairly regular basis. I don’t have a very complex or nuanced sense of the need to protect life. It’s probably the only thing in my world I can say that about. Survival is the most fundamental drive we have, and the obligation to allow others to do the same is crucial. The decision to let one another live (and prosper, not just hang on gauntly) is the only thing that keeps us from degenerating into war, violence, and cruelty. Of course we, as individuals, communities, nations, etc. haven’t done a very good job of it, ever. It’s a sad irony that while we all have the innate drive for survival on an individual basis we seem to have a death-drive as a species (why else would we be destroying our air and water?).
When I got pregnant I didn’t get a lick of morning sickness but I did get physically ill at even the mention of violence on television. Fictional stuff was bad enough, but when it came to real-life violence on the news and such I was done. I had to leave the house for Attic Man to watch Deadwood (which was a pity; great show) or The Shield. I couldn’t stand to hear about Iraq. I did, of course; I felt an obligation to know, and to see, so that I would never get comfortable with it.
Then the babe came and fictional violence was easier, but now anything real-world sends my heart to the basement. Because now, everyone is someone’s baby. It was intellectually true for me before, but now I feel it in a visceral place, in a way that makes me feel inextricably connected to the fabric of everything and everyone else. Watching someone, anyone suffer or die, or even hearing about it, is watching my own child suffer or die. There’s an empathy there now that knocks me over. It’s a bit like the contractions that I thought might lift me right up off the floor. It’s possession via motherhood.
Most days I’m good at keeping those emotions in check so that I can function, do my work, take care of my kid. I try to avoid images that will send me wallowing (because what good is feeling bad about it? it’s what we do with those feelings that matter…I will not collapse into pity) and I check myself before I picture the same happening to my baby.
But then there’s the little baby rabbit under the grill, and it’s squealing desperately in the mouth of my dog. And I am yelling at my dog to drop the tiny, struggling ball of fur, and then yelling at the other dog who has picked it up after the other has dropped it. Miraculously, he is dropping it and I am holding them by their collars, watching the small body rise and fall on the walkway, trying to figure out what to do with it, the dogs, and the Snapper. After putting the dogs in the other side of the yard and barracading it, putting on gloves (all with the baby in his seat in the yard, watching wide-eyed and open-mouthed), and grabbing a piece of newspaper, I am carrying the body, with wide eyes and a mouth that is searching for its mother’s teat, across the street, where I am hollowing out a place in the mulch under a bush so that it can die in peace and not in the jaws of another animal.
It makes me wonder why I am so OK with killing animals for food when there are other ways to eat that are actually better for our bodies anyway, and how easily I don’t eat meat (except for fish) but don’t press on the cruelty issues. It’s partly a matter of that overwhelmed feeling I get when I take on too many social issues at once, but really, when I’m holding the warm body of an infant rabbit in my palm it’s hard to say, “let someone else take care of it.”
The rabbit probably faced death anyway–there we no other rabbits under the grill (you bet I checked) and its mother was nowhere in sight. Still, I didn’t want to watch it die being pulled apart by two dogs (who routinely lick my own baby’s face).
I’m blown away by my reaction and wondering what it means for how I choose to live from now on. Will I give up fish, too? Will I try to insist that Attic Man only eat kosher/free range/ organic meat (or will I decide that my gastronomical ethics are my own?)? The universe is trying to tell me something, I’m sure…
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