fern considers the fine art of listening
well, folks, we are in the final stretch. just 6 days until my due date. wow. really? have we come this far already?
i have been blessed by an outpouring of support from so many kind and generous people in my life. especially by my cowgirls. with aida, daisy, and the wise and wonderful M, i have managed to find my own space to learn and to grow with my child. the wisdom and support shared by these amazing women help to ground me in my intuition, into my own innate wisdom.
i think one of my favorite things about sharing with the cowgirls is that each of us genuinely listens to each other. we share our stories, we bless our homesteads, we aim not to judge, and we flow. this leaves a sacred space for sharing, and for finding our own way, however different or similar it may be to the witch beside us. we honor that which is sacred within, while appreciating the variations that make us individuals.
each witch has her own brand of wisdom to share. daisy leans toward the practical, giving books and nourishing food and good humor to us all. aida shares her pain, her dirt, and her physical and emotional strength. the wise and wonderful M shares her heart, her warmth, her gentleness. and we all share our hands and other tools for helping when we can.
in addition to sharing wisdom and resources, the cowgirls put no demands on one another. we assist when we can, knowing that the day will come when we may need a helping hand, or four or six, in our gardens, our homes, our births. we share without the thought of reward, yet we find security in knowing that our own needs will be met when it is time.
never in my life have i had friends like these. we are sisters, women, mothers and guides. we weave a web of life, of growth.
i have been seeking a kind of network like this for goddess knows how long. i was seeking before i knew i was seeking, before i knew what i was missing. somewhere along the meandering path, i set my heart’s compass to love, and i have continued to stumble into the most beautiful and enlightening situations.
that said, i have learned in my young age to be careful of the kinds of help i accept. the cowgirls don’t call ourselves ‘helping’ one another; we prefer to think of it as simply doing what we do, what feels right for every creature involved. often, we enjoy the doing as much as the person in need enjoys the assistance. and we always, always have a good time doing it.
too many times we fall into the trap of self-sacrificing. many of us have been raised with the judeo-christian mores of self-sacrifice, with the notion that this makes us somehow better than others, better than even our selves. and while, yes, it is good to shed some of our selves from time to time and give forth to someone else who may be in need, to force ourselves into a state of ascetic piety doesn’t really help anybody. plus, it makes us not fun to be around.
i got a lot of flack from my sister about throwing my new family a party in lieu of letting her plan a baby shower. she griped and complained, “when will i ever have another opportunity to do something for you?” yet, as i discussed my wishes with her regarding food and guests, she met my requests with contempt and sarcasm. so much for doing something for me, huh?
recently, two high-school girlfriends also wanted to do something for me. i acquiesced, still feeling quite satisfied from the anticipation celebration. i asked that my sister and mother be included, since they hadn’t had the “opportunity to do something” for me. they agreed, and asked me about my needs here in the final two weeks of pregnancy. i told them the truth- we were well stocked, and that all we needed now was cloth diapers. we set up a registry for them, and intended to add a little money as we made it, or to ask others to contribute to our fund, until we had enough to get a good supply of diapers.
it’s funny how people seem to think they know what is best for you. i loved all of the gifts i received from the women in attendance- i got adorable clothes, shoes, blankets, and yes, money (going straight to the diaper fund!). i even got a gift certificate for homemade baked ziti! but oddly enough, from the two women who wanted to “do something” for me, i got exactly the opposite of what i needed, or wanted. i feel a little guilty for thinking this way, but i can’t help but wonder what about my requests seemed to them to be not in my best interest? one friend spent a considerable amount of our time together casting doubt upon my birth choices, and the other spent a crazy amount of money on items we already had or did not need in the first place. while i felt touched initially at the thoughtfulness of these women “doing something” for me, at the end of it, i felt a bit slighted and a little angry that my wishes had been so easily dismissed. now i have two large bags full of items i can’t use that i have to take back to target, and still no cloth diapers. at least now i’ll have a store credit when i’m in a pinch, or at the very least, items to re-gift when my next friend gets pregnant.
the cowgirls never cease to inquire honestly what each others’ needs are, and then listen, consider, and thoughtfully give. i appreciate the books, herbs, chickens, bathrobes, mobiles, food, and rituals shared by these women during my time of need. but most of all, i appreciate their commitment to the fine and delicate art of listening.