“Everyone,” I say to my eager prenatal clients, holding out my hands in front of me as if they contained precious jewels, “has a basket,” (they are waiting for me to drop some kind of wisdom-bomb on them) “of fucks.”
“A basket of fucks. The basket of things that you give a fuck about. And our job,” I say, pointing at my client’s partner and back at myself, “is to figure out what’s in your basket, and help you advocate for those things.”
We actually all have a basket of fucks, whether we’re having a baby or just, you know, going about our lives.
I kind of picture the basket of fucks as a beautifully multi-coloured woven piece of art, maybe with the odd feather or friendship bracelet dangling from the handle.
The mamas-to-be that I work with tend to have similar things in their baskets of fucks: they care about working with support people who trust their bodies, they care about informed decision-making and autonomy, they care about breastfeeding, they care about caring for themselves as they transition to motherhood.
The other amazing women I work with also have some of the same glimmering jewels in their baskets: things like authenticity, self-compassion and self-care, creativity, connection to themselves and the earth, a reverence for the potential of their lives.
We all have a richly-appointed basket of fucks, in fact.
The problem is that we rarely know what’s in it, or how it got there.
Let me explain.
Two weeks ago I had the deep pleasure of being in the same room for a weekend with Elizabeth Gilbert. In her opening talk on the first evening, she said three words that made me squirm. I don’t think I was alone:
“I. Don’t. Care.”
Liz was talking about drawing an imaginary line around herself – a boundary that included only the people and things and places that mattered most – and to everything else outside that line stating a definitive and powerful “I don’t care.” She went on to describe the lower 60% of her mailbox (everyone’s mailbox?) and how it contained emails that she didn’t want to write and almost all of them were emails about things she just didn’t care about. “I don’t care about your project, I don’t care about your event, I don’t want to go there, I don’t have time to do this.”
She talked about how “not caring” is so taboo for women. Women are *supposed* to care about everything: when the library books are due, when the toilet paper is about to run out, whose birthday it is, getting a sympathy card for Karen from accounting after the death of her beloved schnauzer….
…you’re nodding along with me, right?
Here’s another dimension to what goes in your basket of fucks: what should go in your basket of fucks.
There needs to be a should filter on the fuck basket, if you ask me.
I was listening to a group of teens on the radio talking about the Canadian election and the interviewer asked one of the kids what their self-conducted high school polls were saying about what his schoolmates cared about when it came to federal policy. His answer floored me:
“Well, 60% of the teens in our school say they care about climate change, but really, that’s just become something that you’re supposed to care about. It would be really uncool to say you didn’t care about climate change.”
This kid was a truth-teller.
And so I ask you: how many things have made it into your basket of fucks with a should attached to them? Should buy Christmas presents, should go to the office potluck, should enrol the kids in extracurriculars, should compost more…
I have the great privilege of working with women who have come to a catalyzing juncture in their lives when they realize it’s time to dump out the basket of fucks and have a good look at what has made its way in there. They take the pearls of what really matters most and tuck them safely back inside, and they offload the things they’ve stopped caring about, never cared about, or only cared about because they thought they should.
What’s more is that these women start doing the lifelong and sometimes confronting work of defending and advocating for their basket of fucks, using their voice and their conviction and their inner wisdom to weave the basket a little tighter, to hold what matters inside a little closer.
It’s nothing short of a revolution, in my opinion.