Listen to Michael and Anastacia
Today's post is a collaborative piece between a Dad and myself. Michael Espinosa's social media posts about parenting share insights into a world of the unknown. Michael and his wife, Mariana, have chosen to embrace parenthood without childcare, while running their own businesses. His observations show that he had no idea what he was getting into when he became a father. He has a way of telling a story that is relatable and tugs at the heart, like only a Dad who is in love with his family could. After you read his story, we'll continue the conversation.
Mariana and I are lucky in many ways. Our schedules allow us to be with our child all the time. We get to be together as a family a lot. Earlier in our relationship, we talked about homeschooling and raising our children at home, never knowing exactly how we would make it work. We find ourselves now, somewhat serendipitously, in a position to do all of the things we wanted to do when we were younger.
As much as we appreciate and cherish the time we have together, it makes it really hard to get anything done. For Mariana, especially, who is still breastfeeding, being a mom and a kick-ass entrepreneur at the same time is holding two full-time jobs. It's easier for me to get away if I need to. I always have to be aware of this. The few times that I've felt totally locked down by my daughter, Mariana has reminded me, "This is what it's like for me all of the time."
So, no, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. We've both been sprayed with shit, vomited on, and have had to deal with the unconsolable cries of our daughter. And while it is not a total walk in the park, *nothing worth doing ever is.* The moments of pure joy, love, and affection are plentiful. Every day is a new discovery. Every day is a little miracle.
A philosophy professor of mine once asked, "Can anyone here say that they have ever witnessed a miracle?" It was a sincere question, but I think she assumed that none of us had. She was trying to prove a point: that everything has a cause. Nothing just happens out of thin air. That's what a miracle is.
Up until that point in my life, I couldn't say that I had ever seen a miracle. That question stuck with me though, and I realized that we're all here, spinning out of control on a rock-bubble traveling at thousands of miles an hour around a burning ball of gas, for no reason, with no cause.
Later, I watched my daughter emerge from the yonic dimension. It was a miracle. Unlike the virgin birth, it was with cause, but how about the first? Her birth was the chain-reaction of life after life with no cause.
And every day, in between the crying and the relentless need for attention, if I allow myself to see it, there are little miracles happening all the time.
Like this little miracle in between sets! Michael
I don't know about you but when I first read this story - I melted. A Dad celebrating his family with this level of gratitude got to me. The comments were from friends who shared my sentiments. As the hours passed, I continued to think about the feelings coming up for me.
I wondered why this story was especially moving. I know there are great fathers out there who display their love openly for their children and who show up fully for their family. These days, more fathers than ever take on all of the tasks of parenting, with a partner or on their own. Yet these men, these well-rounded men who understand what it means to be "tied down" with a kid and unable to come and go as they choose, are not as plentiful as I would like.
Perhaps feelings arose in me due to my single mother status in the early parenting years. Have I ever imagined a loving partner in the home with me, as I mothered alone? Absolutely. When I think about two parents, sharing the duties of children and the household, it blows my mind.
Oftentimes I wonder if the way I did it was easier. Perhaps that is a survival mechanism or the "Positive Polly" side of me talking. I was able to make all of the decisions. No one felt threatened by my co-sleeping decisions. There wasn't a partner who was jealous of the attention I gave to a nursing toddler, as I was able to choose to breastfeed for three years. I was able to decide about vaccinations and homebirth. I wasn't distracted by conversations with my partner, arguments, or expectations of chores I wanted them to do.
I was grateful to be a mom. I enjoyed fulfilling my mothering desires that had been lying dormant for 35 years. I didn't expect anyone to help change diapers or to wash the dishes.
Because I was on my own, I accepted instead of expected. Expectations seemed to be what bothered my friends the most when parenting with a partner.
They expected them to nurture, clean, and cook just like they did. But all people do these things differently. The unanswered expectations seemed to be the root of their problems and I was liberated from that drudgery.
Canon in D plays on my phone as I am writing and I am flooded by the memories of my homebirth, eleven years ago. I labored on my own with this carefully chosen musical arrangement playing in a loop. I tuned in to my primal self fully as my belly tightened and squeezed. I quietly slipped into the deep tub, trying not to waken my mother in the next room. I didn't want to talk. I didn't want help. I just wanted to be. To be with my baby as we began our journey together.
As my mother and best friends joined me in a circle of love, my baby was born in the water. Time stood still in a way that has never done so before. It was just the two us in the bath and I was mesmerized by her as we fell deeply in love. My people loved us in what seemed like a silent movie. I could see their shadows doing the work of birth, while I transformed into a mother.
I read Michael's words and I feel hope.
I am grateful he and Mariana have a true partnership where they both experience the ups and downs of parenting. He is overwhelmed and filled with happiness at the child they created together. And he wants all of us to know.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
December 21, 2019
Michael Espinosa is the Founder and Head Coach of The Ark Fitness, a Not-for-Profit Gym in Gainesville, Florida, dedicated to providing fitness for everyone. When he isn’t cleaning baby poop and food droppings, he spends his time working with clients to help them eat well, move more, and get the most out of life. You can reach him at email@example.com, or find out more about his coaching at procoach.app/nutrition