making feet for children’s shoes

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about magic. Everyday magic—that is, the tiny miracles so intrinsic to our lives that we barely notice them. I don’t believe in Gandalf abra cadabra hocus pocus Harry Potter something-out-of-nothing magic. But I do think that cooking can be magic. Or gardening. Or the way a shot of garlic, lemon juice, and chili powder can cure a mild cold and the way positive (or negative) thinking can dramatically change our grasp on a situation. It may not be magic by your definition, but it is by mine, and calling it so is an important part of my personal celebration of the beauty I find in the cracks of this fucked up world.

Everything about baby building feels surreal, like the realization of the impossible. (Build a nervous system at home in nine months with no training! Call today!) And the more I read about babies and baby making, the more I am sure that it is one of the few realms in which we—particularly mothers—have not entirely forgotten how to practice magic.

Take for example the fact that a laboring woman’s progress will often stall, slow, or stop until the moment when the partner she had so hoped to have at the birth walks in the door. There are a lot of examples of this kind of magic, though she doesn’t call it that, in Ina May Gaskin’s books about midwifery and birthing, so if you’d like to read more I will quietly defer to her own reports.

Take for another example the way that breastfeeding mothers will feel their milk coming in and/or wake up just before their babies begin crying for a meal. (Or the way that the contents of breast milk change according to the current needs of the baby drinking it. Dude. How fucking magical can you get?) It seems proof that humans are capable of interacting with each other, communicating with each other, on a hormonal level that we tend to scoff at out in the modern world. But if a mother can communicate with her baby in this way, what’s to say that we can’t all communicate with each other in similar ways? That there aren’t levels of human connection and communication that we have either forgotten how to read or forgotten completely as we bury ourselves beneath scientific skepticism and the exter-cerebral communication channels that technology has popularized?

You could call these things magic or telepathy, but if those are words that make you twitch then, shit, call them something else. No matter what any of you decide to call them, today I’m calling them everyday magic and staring at the universe in awe through their lens.

PS Ten points if you can name the song the title is stolen from without googling…

0 Comments on “making feet for children’s shoes

  1. I love this. Everything about motherhood is magical to me (and I’m one of those cynical asshole types, seriously).

  2. Well, I missed my ten points, but my husband knew. He’s a Waits junkie. I do believe in the something from nothing sort of magic as well as the more tangible and obvious baby-making or everyday miracles. Human beings are capable of so much more than most of us bother to imagine.

  3. In total agreement. The first thing I said when Jane was delivered was “that’s impossible!”.

    Oh and about the breastmilk, I read somewhere too that if your baby is sick, their germs get passed into your breast and then your body makes milk with the appropriate antibodies. Crazy!!

  4. Three cheers for the other Tom Waits junkies!

    Tara: I know I for one would love reading about you raising a wild child out in the woods. Just saying. 🙂

    FVM: I bet I’m going to say something similar. Though it might just come out as “what the fuck??!?!” I’ve read that about the breast milk antibodies too, I should have included that in the magic. So crazy and crazily perfect.

  5. Absolutely, it’s magic!!

    My son was jaundiced after birth, the week after the winter solstice with cloudy weather forecast, so he had to be treated with artificial UV lights in the hospital. The first 24 hours of this was in neonatal intensive care, where I was allowed to hold him only 10 minutes every 3 hours. He hated it. He was so miserable. But my milk came in early for a first-time mom, just in time to soothe him halfway through that horrible night. Magic!

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