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Tag Archives: parenthood

Elsewhere

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I love the time and in between

The calm inside me

In this space where I can breathe

I believe there is a distance I have wandered

To touch upon the years of reaching out and reaching in

Holding out and holding in

I believe this is heaven to no one else but me

And I’ll defend it as long as I can be

Left here to linger in silence

If I choose to

Would you try to understand

 

I like to sing.  I sing constantly, loudly, softly, intentionally, and without realizing it.  I sing to Mason, when we’re walking, when we’re dancing in the backyard, bouncy songs when he needs to laugh, and slow songs when he needs some soothing.  This is actually a Sarah MacLachlan song, but I originally heard it sung by Bethany Joy Lenz (Galeotti)… and sorry Sarah, but it remains my favorite version.  It’s Mason’s favorite song, I think.  Because within the first line or two, a grin spreads across his face, whether previously sad, sleepy or serious.

I have to say, that there are of course, periods of minutes or sometimes even hours, where things are not easy.  Where constant reserves of energy are being called upon from my rapidly emptying tank… where he’s so upset he won’t calm to my songs, or anything else we try for what seems like an eternity… where he may be peaceful and good-natured when I have him in my arms, and then immediately frantic and tearful if I set him down… or even when he is full of laughter, smiles and ready to be played with and entertained, and my cheeks have started to hurt from smiling.  There are days where I breathe a sigh of relief when he goes down for a nap, only to spend that time on laundry or making lunch or planning dinner because that’s the time when it’s easiest to do those things.  There are days where Mark and I plop down on the couch at the end of the day in front of a hulu show and eat our dinner there, worn out from our own form of work in the day.  And then turn on another show when that one ends.

BUT

I do believe… this is my own particular kind of heaven.

I’m sometimes shocked, after being woken up two, three, four times in a night to wails from the room down the hall, wishing each time that I could just sleep a full night again… that it’s still possible to walk down the hall, pick up that little screaming baby, and more often than not, instantly think that there’s no where else I’d rather be.

I’m not a masochist.  I enjoy sleep.  I also have a part of me that is wistful for the days, moments even, where my desires were the only important thing in my world to fulfill.

But here’s the truth…

We have our children with us for such a shockingly short amount of time.  18 years.  Before they’re grown and out to discover life on their own terms.

And we have our children as babies, toddlers, little young things, for an even smaller amount of time.  Short as the blink of an eye in the course of a life of 70 or 80 or 90 years.  Such a heartbreakingly short amount of time to cradle them, to cuddle them in your lap, to be the one they cry for in the middle of the night when they’re sad or hungry or lonely.  This is likely the only period of time in Mason’s whole life, where Mark and I are the only people in the world that he needs to feel safe and loved.  And I know this is that thing that all old ladies in supermarkets tell you over and over, but it’s all going to go by so fast.  So fast that soaking up even those really hard, exhausting, moments of endless giving… is so very important to me.

And if I can bring him some comfort in the middle of the night, or bring a giant smile to my baby’s face with just a couple little song verses.  Let me tell you, my heart swells.

Baby Mason Fauxhawk

Ah, to be a beginner

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I’m in the living room, Melody Gardot singing to me, while I’m wishing I knew how to work the heater without fear of something going wrong.

I put the baby in the swing while I made my breakfast, and in a lucky stroke, he’s fallen asleep and rocks contentedly even after I’ve finished eating. Whenever he falls asleep outside of my arms, I search my mind for what I should or could be doing with this valuable hands free time. Sometimes responsibility gets the better of me and I do the dishes or fold laundry or pick up around the house. But this morning (thanks to another lucky stroke yesterday) none of that needs to be done. Sometimes I’m still tired from the night, or freshly tired from the day, and all I want to do is lay and watch a show or read what other people have written. And then there’s the occasional revelation that I could do something just for me. Something creative. Something like writing or cooking or drawing or scrapbooking.  Things that I used to be able to do freely once upon a time, that I didn’t do nearly as often as I could, but still did far more often than I’m able to now. Since it’s on the less labor intensive side of the scale, I chose to write. Writing can be started and stopped if my sleeping babe decides his nap is over. But to have glorious stretches of time in which to write… that chance is rare these days. And now that I have it… I’m struggling with what I want to say.

It’s interesting to live, this whole process of being a mother. The incredible and complex contexts of meaning that word brings up just on it’s own… but then the actual practice of it. It is literally a practice. A compilation of trials and errors, leading us to some things that are helpful and some things we have to keep practicing in different ways until one seems to fit. For the time being.

I’ve always been good at being a beginner. When I’m interested in learning, that is. If you put me in a math class that I don’t want to be in, I’m bitter, I’m resistant, I’m willingly distracted and I’m generally pretty arrogant about what’s worth my time and what’s not. But put me in a learning context that I want to immerse myself in, and I will eagerly explore. I have no problem trying new approaches, asking for advice, admitting when I haven’t a clue of what I’m doing. It’s true with dancing, it’s true learning bodywork, it’s true in a finance class. And so I’ve come to understand… it’s true with mothering. Of course when something is really important to me, I have the initial instinct to want to know that I am absolutely doing the right thing. But I’ve known too, and realize more every day, that there isn’t a right way of putting your baby to sleep, or comforting him when he’s upset, or of using your free time when he’s napping. There’s your way of putting your baby to sleep and there’s my way. And furthermore, there’s my way of putting him to sleep tonight, and my way of putting him to sleep yesterday. And my way a month ago. Because everyday, every hour even… we get to know our baby a little bit more. And tomorrow his habits might change, and we’ll have to be beginners all over again.

My days are much simpler now. Sometimes we go for a walk around town, sometimes we only walk out to the backyard. Sometimes he naps long enough for me to write for an hour, sometimes he doesn’t stay content long enough for me to do throw a load of wash in. Sometimes he loves the swing, watches me as I walk around, makes faces at himself in the mirror above him, snoozes. Sometimes he screams as soon as I put him in it and doesn’t stop till he’s picked up again. His mood determines the productivity of my day, and his presence has redefined that word for me. I haven’t found a predictable routine to our days yet… but patterns are starting to emerge, and certain activities are starting to stand out and reoccur. And what a productive or successful day has started to mean to me, is a day in which I am most present throughout it. The days that I enjoy the most, are the days that I’m most able to let go of any imposed ideas of what I should be able to do or accomplish. Those are the days where I am most reactive. Responding to what the moment calls for. What Mason will enjoy in the moment, and what I will feel good about in the moment. Which… ironically enough… is something I had been trying to achieve long before Mason was even a twinkle. And I think it’s the simplicity of our days that has allowed me to tune into this responsiveness better now than I had been able to before.

Soak up your moments as well.
Whether they are momentarily filled with frustrations, coos and smiles, or open-ended time.

Swinging Nap