Birthing the Crone
This piece was originally written on January 5, 2021, the occasion of my twin sons' 25th birthdays. Since I didn't yet have my blog, I am posting it here now, on the occasion of their 26th birthdays. Happy, happy Incarnation Days to my two beautiful babies, who are now two beautiful (inside and out) men. As I draw nearer and nearer to full Crone-dom, I couldn't be happier to have them on my journey.
Maxwell Thomas and Benjamin Nickolas Vanden Eynden, born 1.5.96. Their dad called them Muppet Babies.
A quarter of a century ago, I birthed identical twin boys into this world.
I was 27 years old. The pregnancy was planned; the twins were not. Still, after a few moments of sheer panic when we found out two boys were coming, I felt very peaceful and at ease through the months. I went to work in the insurance office where I administered 401k plans. I attended classes at night to obtain my massage therapy license. I even performed in an interactive comedy theatre piece where my character was nine months pregnant to my reality of three or so months. Eventually, I was confined to bedrest, but it provided more time for me to study for my upcoming licensing exam. I took that exam in early December, 7 months along and barely able to fit into the seat at the testing site. My husband and I celebrated the holidays, knowing that our boys were coming soon. We’d chosen their names; we’d decorated their bedroom in primary colors and Snoopy artwork; we’d bought two of every essential item we could think of. We were ready, and I was calm.
They arrived early, of course; most twins do. I had an amniocentesis when it was determined Baby B wasn’t growing as well as Baby A. A painful test, but necessary to see if Baby B’s lungs were developed enough to induce labor. They were, and we did. After 12 plus hours, I pushed our boys into the world, one bruised, battered, and squalling, one (five minutes later) quiet, small, and easy-going. Through it all, even when I became anxious about the birth process or gasped through another painful contraction, I knew in my heart of hearts that everything would turn out OK. The boys were premature—but it would be OK. One was born with polycythemia—too many red blood cells—and had to have a procedure done to ensure his life only hours after his birth—but it would be OK. My blood pressure was way too high, and I had a debilitating migraine right after the birth—but it would be OK. We had to stay in the hospital; we had to leave one baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to make sure he gained enough weight; we drove the other baby home in an epic blizzard—but it would be OK. My faith in that never seemed to waver.
Looking back, I marvel at myself. How could I be so sure? How was I so peaceful, so centered, so trusting? How did I somehow understand that these lives were meant to be, that these boys we’d created had purposes in this world? That their father and I would do just fine, even through medical issues and insurance problems and staggering debt. That we would be a strong, happy family?
It wasn’t simple, that’s for sure. No parent can say that life is easy when a baby comes home, and we struggled with it all: feedings, organization, sleeplessness, aggravation at each other, our helpers, our children, ourselves. And yet, we made it work. We pushed through it all. Our boys were alive. Our boys were loved. Our boys grew and changed and became their own persons.
Ben, now. Handsome devil, ain't he?
Max's photo from his employer. He's awfully handsome, too. I tell my husband: we made beautiful babies.
Twenty-five years. It doesn’t seem that long, and yet it’s a lifetime. It’s a quarter of a century, after all. And in this past quarter of a century, my husband and I grew, too. We worked our jobs. We changed jobs. We parented, sometimes successfully, sometimes by the skin of our teeth. We pursued hobbies like music, theatre, and writing. We spent time with family and friends. We stayed tuned into each other, and our love story spooled out for us, deepening and becoming richer with each passing year.
We succeeded as parents. We succeeded as individuals. We succeeded as a couple.
Twenty-five years. Here I am, today. And I’m saying: Now what?
I’ve been asking myself this question throughout all of 2020. I stepped back from my private counseling and teaching practice when I realized my joy for it was slipping away. I embraced a pandemic and took all of the precautions I could to sustain my work, but the Universe moved me even more steadily toward the end of that cycle. I closed my office, not knowing what would come next. I removed myself (mostly) from the internet, scaling back my interaction with the fast-moving world of commerce and consumerism, biding my time as I went within to discover my next steps. I felt more anxious than I ever have in my 52 years, not knowing what would happen to me, our family, our children, our finances, our way of life. So much of my life has been focused outwardly, on helping others, on giving advice, on leading, on teaching through words and actions. Was that over now? Who was I, if I wasn’t a counselor? If I wasn’t a writer and a teacher? Who was I if I wasn’t a mother?
I’ve hit upon a truth. I’m sharing it now.
I’m still Rose. I’m still me.
Earth-shattering, isn’t it? Why it’s taken me so long to realize this, I’m not sure. How many times have I been different versions of Rose? When I consider this, I realize I’ve been shapeshifting from one Rose to another throughout my entire life. This version is just another embodiment. But this one is an integrated, more authentic me that I’ve ever been before.
I’m moving into Crone-dom. I’ve been the Maiden, the youngster with wide eyes and dreams, with boundless enthusiasm and unending energy. I’ve been the Mother, taking care of others, nurturing the visions of those close to me and feeding their needs. Now, I’m birthing a new phase, the time when I sit and share wisdom and reveal what life has taught me.
In some ways, I’ve been Crone for a very long time. As a spiritual leader, I’ve been asked over and over to guide, to help others find their path, to accompany others on their many and varied journeys, supporting them all as much as possible. There is an aspect to the Crone persona that still embodies these qualities.
But there is also an aspect of Crone that is solitary, that is involved with the inner self and the deepening of her own personal soul journey. The wisdom discovered during the Maiden and the Mother periods remains, but new nuances, new textures and colors and emotions, rise to the surface of the endlessly deep pool within. The Crone spirals down into those waters and rises with treasures as yet undiscovered.
Now, I find new ways to share myself with others, in a manner that does not drain me but buoys me on the waves of understanding. Now, I can be quiet and reconnect with my most personal heart, the part of myself that sometimes had to be ignored to do my duties at other life stages. This is the time to stand alone in the wind at the top of the mountain I’ve climbed, to allow the gales to buffet my face and to ruffle my hair, to strip away the energies of the past, to leave me naked and exposed, with my sagging skin and my wrinkles and my grey hair, the outward signs of age that so many despise and avoid. And as I stand alone, I am filled with joy.
Look at how far I’ve come. Look at what I’ve accomplished. Look at how beautiful my life is. Look at how beautiful I am.
Look. I’m not afraid anymore to show you. I’m not afraid anymore of what you think of me, what you want from me, what you expect of me. I am satisfied with who I am in this moment. I will lean into the unknowing that is before me and allow it to sweep me forward.
It’s not about you anymore. It’s about me.
This is the Crone. This is the woman I am becoming now. This is what I am birthing, what I bring to the world now, what I love and what I authentically display. Take it or leave it. I make no apologies, for I know that this is where I’m supposed to be.