The Space Between

I’ve been remiss in my writing lately, though I’ve been keeping up a few small posts on my Instagram. I’ve had a thousand thoughts running through my mind these past couple months as I transition out of doula work and into midwifery, but have had no desire to put fingers to keyboard – which for me is a sure sign that I really need to.

The thing about transitions is that they rarely blend neatly with the former running into the latter all gorgeous-gradient-style. There’s always this space of time, where nothing seems to happen, where you exist in the in-between. This is true for most things -the weeks between ovulation and confirming your pregnancy, the beginnings of labour, the famous “transition” in labour, the hours and weeks after birth, the months between university acceptance and the first day of classes. You are not what or where you were before, but you are not quite where you will be either. That’s usually where some magic happens as well, be it in the form of personal growth, upheaval or a ceremony or ritual of some sort to seal off that rite of passage in your life. I myself was very blessed in having a sealing ceremony done for me by a few dear, soulful friends at the beginning of June. Usually there are “deaths” as well in one form or another. Death has be be embraced as a old friend for you to let go of the things you cannot bring with you, that will pull your focus and attention away from the path you need to be on. So naturally there is a period of grieving as well that need to happen. I’ve often said that this year has been full of many “little deaths”. Some I was able to embrace in the moment, while others I refused to let happen until forced to do so – usually through exhaustion, or the painful realization that I wasn’t going to move forward until I surrendered. Birthy peeps, that sounds pretty damn familiar doesn’t it?

I’m trying to look at events or “seasons” within my own life as being described in archetypal fashion. In this I’m focusing and relating to both the cyclical archetypes of maiden/mother/wild woman/crone and also more specific archetypes such as but not limited to the child/orphan/caretaker/huntress. I do this as life is so complex and the thoughts and feelings we have are often in both agreement and conflict with each other in such convoluted ways, that describing or trying to understand them in common language feels difficult and very two dimensional. In this sense, I suppose I’ve been in my wild woman and huntress (and consequently my warrior as well) often these past days – especially in the shower. There’s something about running water that helps my brain click on and process things in enough of a streamlined manner that I can pick out individual thoughts, examine them and decide if something needs to be done. Sometimes a thought or feeling goes back onto “the shelf” to look at later, other times I have the “Aha moment” and hold on tight and create change in my life. Those who know me, know I have the terrible and wonderful habit of making swift and decisive changes – I don’t do this lightly, but when I have clarity about any given thing, that’s that. This means that I get shit done, but it can be really jarring for those around me.

I officially left my doula practice in the hands of my very capable partner in June. The practice that I named and put every bit of myself into in writing for, marketing and co-envisioning while walking with over 130 families is no longer mine. Again with the parallel between birth, parenting and life right? It’s bittersweet because I know in my heart that leaving my role as a doula is exactly right in this moment in time, but I feel very disconnected along with the occasional pang of sadness when I see my former business pop up in my newsfeeds. I have no doubt that my partner will thrive without me, but I will miss being on that leg of the journey with her. There are returning clients whose primary births I attended, that I won’t be walking with through their next births in the Fall. I know very well that they do not need me to be at their births, but being invited into a birth space to serve women and families is a wonderful thing that I will personally miss.

I find myself reflecting over and over about how very different this time in my life is from my first experience with post-secondary education. I was in my teens, childless, living at home and admittedly training in a career that was completely wrong for me, though I did very well in it for a time. Over a decade later I not only have more perspective under my belt, but I’ve spent a considerable amount of time seeking out my own education and experience for my dual passions of birth and herbalism. I have a strong circle of likeminded women I connect deeply with on an emotional and spiritual level, to the point where I actually feel I can understand and accept myself in a wholistic sense, for the first time in my life. I’m blessed to have a very nice home of my own and a garden I can retreat to and grow medicine within. I’ve birthed three babies, who deepened my willingness and ferocity to claim ownership over my body and process with each journey earth-side. My partner has been an unsung hero through it all. He is one who really and truly supports me, listens to my rants and gives his time and patience generously to understand and hold space for my worldview, even when it challenges his own – which is often.

With all the joy, support and abundant love, there are also a lot of people depending on me to have my shit together – whether directly or not. I have two clever children transitioning from homeschool into public school, which I admit is still much to my own chagrin, though I do finally feel acceptance and a sort of peace with what must be. My nearly three year old – who incidentally only stopped nursing in May, will be with family during the days I’m in class. Come placement years, we will have a fantastic support system so my hubby won’t be trying to juggle his career, the wellness of our kids and his own sanity alone.

I’m incredibly grateful for how things have worked out so far in practicality, but this in-between time has been poignant as well. I love homeschooling, I love waking up to my kids and having the freedom to decide in the moment what our day will look like. Much of what I perceived to be difficult in my parenting, in homeschooling suddenly became so much lighter when I let go of doula work. This makes sense in retrospect, because the role of the doula, while I loved certain aspects, has never been my heart song. In a practical sense, it’s been freeing to not fuss over on-call, prenatal meetings, emails and to release the former constant vigilance over the state of my phone. I have the space to be able to enjoy mothering and really be present for my kids.

We still have many difficult days as a family, but we have them together. It’s not the end of the world for our lives to change and adapt over the next four years, but it is an end. I’ve been honouring that for my family and myself, by giving myself permission to let sadness flow through that the summer won’t last forever, that we will all have separate roads to travel, to grow, to work with come September and to hold space for my kids as well as they go through their own upheavals. All roads lead back home though, so I’m keeping that tucked into the back of my mind to temper any lingering fears of separation. All in all, the summer together has been wonderful thus far. We’ve already had lots of day trips, we’ve canned peach jam, fermented watermelon rinds, excavated the overgrown garden, played video games, gone foraging for herbs on the hill and enjoyed lots of friends and thunderstorms (we adore thunderstorms). We have one more long family trip away to BC before school starts as well to look forward to. There are so many things to look forward to.

This space between is hard, honest and sacred. This space allows for the dark and light things to come out and play, be examined and embraced. This space between is necessary to move on.

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