The March Hare. On madness and letting go.

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
’Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’
’How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.
’You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’
— Lewis Carroll, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Mad as a march hare.... it's an old idiom that inspired the zany character made famous by Lewis Carroll in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The spring mating season inspires erratic and excitable behavior in hares; even more impressive leaping and vertical jumping than usual, and sometimes fantastic "boxing matches" between competing males or unwilling females and their would-be suitors. 

Last March I found myself in a completely unexpected situation, frantically preparing for my shop to be featured on Etsy's blog and homepage for four days. It was an unforeseen windfall for my needle felting business; one for which I was unprepared and felt a little sheepish about, but which really pushed me to grow the shop and my creative vision. I survived the feature - only a touch madder than I had been before - and better for the experience.

This March I am a few weeks, perhaps only days away from meeting my (first) daughter. And yes, I think there is an element of madness to this stage of pregnancy. Not necessarily in the stereotypical way of hysterics or insomnia or uncontrollable "nesting" behaviors. What's mad is that not just my body, but my entire consciousness, has been invaded by a person I have not yet met. And that I love her beyond reason.... but all I really know about her is that she has very powerful legs, loves all kinds of fruit, and hates yoga, walking, and hot showers.

Becoming a mother is easily the maddest experience I've ever had.  I am the self I've known for years but I'm also someone that I don't know well yet at all, someone who surprises me by being calm when I would usually be anxious, quiet when I would be upset, fierce when I would melt into tears.

The best way I can describe it is surrender without surrender.... letting go of what I know and feel sure of in expectation of catching hold of something better. A new relationship, a new role, a new person to love and care for, a new way of viewing the world and my place in it. And I say "better" not because I believe having children is a superior decision or situation to not choosing or being able to have children, nor because I believe that my parenting experience is going to be strictly beneficial and enjoyable for me or my daughter (if only!), but because my decision to surrender the self and life I know to something new, unknown, and potentially difficult and painful, will (hopefully) make me a better person.

The March hare is mad because it's faced with life at its barest. It has survived the harshness of winter and comes out into the fairness of spring only to find that in order to go on, in order to move forward, it must surrender itself to another. And to a self it doesn't yet know, and to new beings it doesn't yet know. Perhaps it is a sense of this helplessness that makes them leap, kick their legs in the air, twist and spin. Perhaps that's what it's like for the baby in the womb. Kick and struggle though we might, wild-eyed and stubborn, we all have to keep moving forward on this trail that is both familiar and well-worn, but also strange and new.

I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.
— Lewis Carroll, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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