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The First Year

I want to be the kind of person my son admires.

Lately, this has become even clearer to me than ever before. I want to carry myself in all areas of my life with integrity, with positivity, and with love.

I want the road to my future successes, whether they be personal or professional, to be littered with the remains of my angst, my anger, my unkindnesses, my disbelief, my negativity, and my sarcasm, not the people I climbed over to get wherever I’m going.

The year of my 30th birthday, 2012, was the hardest in my life. It was a year of loss, my twin miscarriage, my beloved maternal grandmother, and in many ways, the dream of the woman I wanted to become.

Of course, of those experiences was born a new woman with new dreams. I became more responsible, more confident, and more discerning. In many other ways, though, I let fear and disappointment stew and seep their toxins slowly but surely into the life I was rebuilding. In this way, I didn’t offer tolerance to those I cared for; I was quicker to judgement, faster to snap at the smallest transgressions, especially in those I loved most.

I let go, though not in the way that we generally mean when we use those words. I didn’t just let go of the things that held me back. I let go of the things that helped me be kind, like meditation and visualization, and I let go, too, of the things that helped me to be healthy. The body follows the mind, as they say.

Recently, I’ve found myself facing a few situations that clearly illustrate for me how the choices I make now will impact the woman I become, which then circles me back to my son. I want to be someone he admires, his hero, in fact, but even more than that, I want to model for him what it is to live a mindful life, one of lovingkindess toward others and to yourself.

With all my heart, I want him to be a man that understands that he is a creation of his own design, not the product of his circumstances. I want him to love fiercely, judge slowly, and offer a helping hand without expectation for returns. I want him to be the kind of man that gives people a chance and manages his own disappointment instead of lashing out in hurt or anger. I want him to wield kindness and understanding even when confronted by those who come with barbs, lies, and manipulations.

But, first, I have to become all these things myself, and that’s hard.

Oh, and on that note, I want him to do hard things and to know that the path to greatness involves many a hard thing.

In July, my son turned one year old. When he was born, all the outward areas of my life changed: my routine, my body, my work life, my marriage, my home life. My home became more cluttered, my schedule more chaotic, my personal life more rushed.

It was overwhelming. In fact, the living of it felt at times almost beyond my physical, emotional, or mental capacities.  I found myself clinging to the vestiges of my “old life.” I longed for the old days even as I cherished the new ones.

All those first year difficulties caved with new solutions. New routines, new ways to prevent boo-boos, stop tantrums, encourage naps, and more allowed me to eek out just a little time here and there for me, for my marriage, for my work.

A thousand hardships bloomed into one beautiful life that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

That’s the greatness part right there.

And, now that I’ve survived the first year of motherhood, I am looking back at some of the things I dropped on my rush to get there. They belong to me; they make me better, closer to the mother and woman I want to become.

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Waiting Mamas

“Waiting Mamas”

We are hard to spot.

We stand with empty arms,
wear thick sweaters to cover
the bruises of wounded hearts,
stretch smiles over our faces
to hide the pain.

We send gifts for Mother’s Day,
and spend the night
sewing heart-shaped pieces
back together again.

We take numbers,
find stiff-backed seats,
avoid the eyes of strangers.
We flip through magazines,
chat with uncomfortable husbands.

Doctor visits and web pages,
tests and tea leaves,
tinctures and time,
we diagnose, test, hypothesize.
We try, we try, we try.

We wait.

Written April 28, 2014, seven months before our number was finally, FINALLY called.

For the Memories

What if I forget something?

Last night, I nearly had a panic attack over this very question.

The truth is, of course, I will forget something. I already have. In Elliott’s almost five months of life, there have been expressions, sounds, and moments that were beautiful and are now lost to my memory.

I keep telling myself I should keep a written journal. I always have. (There’s just something about handwriting the moments of your life.) Now, though, I have so little time and typing is much, much faster.

So, here is a list. For the memories.

+ On Friday, Elliott started sitting up. He was so focused on the pattern of his sheets that he didn’t even realize he was holding himself up. Now, he loves sitting. He’s a bit like the tinman (woooooah one way, then woooooah the other), but he’s getting the hang of it FAST.

+ Last week, he started trying to “trick” me. He would stick out his lower lip like he was sad, and when I said, “Heeeey. What’s wrong?” he laughed like he’d made a joke. He’s done it a few times since. (It’s still hilarious.)

+ In the early morning hours, I wash dishes and he sits in his swing chewing on his dog. I dance around, usually to something silly — Taylor Swift’s “22” or something — and he looks at me like I hung the moon.

+ Lately, he is obsessed with getting the label off my water bottles, and he gets SO MAD when he can’t do it (which is always).

+ He adores his little sock doggy and will do “attack baby” on his face. He wants to taste everything! That’s how he shows his love.

+ He loves what we call his “play station.” Not sure what it’s actually called. He sits in it and it has toys and a springy board under his feet.

+ When he first heard Adele’s “Hello,” he looked around the room like, “Where’s the angel?”

+ When he wakes in the morning and sees his daddy, he breaks out into a huge grin. Come to think of it, I do that when I see his daddy, too. 🙂

+ Despite the fact that he can’t crawl or walk, he can easily move from one side of me to the very edge of the sofa when I’m sitting (usually, he’s trying to get a hold of that darn water bottle’s label). It’s amazing how mobile he is!

+ He loves the “Baby Touch and Feel” books, especially “Things That Go.”

Mama Life: 19 Weeks

Has it really been 19 weeks?

At once, it feels like so much time has passed and also, no time at all. I think I’ve said that before, but it keeps proving true.

My boy has grown so much in a million different ways, and I’ve grown. I’ve been stretched to my limits and brought to my knees. Of course, like anyone else, it is the greatest bliss I’ve known, like cuddling up to a piece of your very own heart.

Given the holiday that just passed, thankful is the word that comes to mind.

I am thankful beyond measure… for the pain and joy that brought me so unexpectedly to this little person… for the love that Ryan and I have built together and that made it all possible.

My beautiful son brings out some of the best (and worst) things in me. He makes me want to rise above my lazy acceptance of things to honor and acknowledge who I really am and how I’ve navigated my world. Having always experienced a level of privilege he may never know, self-reflection is the least I can do. Sometimes, it feels like I’ve matured more in 19 weeks than I did in my whole life before.

Also, I find myself being pulled to the deepest reaches of my emotions. Sorrow, anger, frustration, even rage… these aren’t the feelings I expected to have. Being his mother means I have to handle myself even in my most vulnerable states. I’m grateful for it, even if I’m also a little disappointed by it (by me, that is).

Here’s what we’ve been up to…

What We’re Doing

  • Taking Elliott to meet Santa (at the mall) soon!
  • Introducing him to the nearby aquatic center for their pre-school open swim
  • We put up our tree over the weekend and have been listening to Christmas music (Hello Mariah Carey Holiday Radio on Pandora)!
  • I lost 8.8 pounds and made $48 on my November Dietbet. Haven’t yet, but I’m thinking I’ll join another in December.
  • We’re languishing in the 4-month sleep regression over here. Any time it wants to let up would be fine by all of us.

What I’m Watching

  • Fixer Upper
  • Tiny House Hunting
  • 12 Monkeys

What I’m Cooking

My boy is now 19 weeks. At his 4-mo wellbaby appointment, he weighed 18-lbs and was 26-inches long. Big boy! He loves to laugh, babble, “stand,” and sing. Being his mama is the best thing ever, even with the fact that he’s been giving me hell in the sleep department. 🙂

 

 

 

Goodness and Light

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

~Do You Hear What I Hear?

Last night, I watched my child’s eyes twinkle with the lights of Christmas.

I saw his little fingers reach out to touch the ornaments that his daddy and I have collected over the years, a mishmash of our history together, tokens of our hope.

Hope that was realized this year, in that very moment.

Shadow Puppets

My son has been struggling with sleep. They call it the four month regression, and there have been days that I’ve felt nearly destroyed by my lack of sleep and frustration.

I was fighting his urge to stay up later.

I was fighting his desire to feel in control of his sleep schedule.

I was fighting his need to be with me.

And, he was fighting right back. He was crying and screaming, clearly frustrated that I didn’t get it.

Finally, I realized that the struggle really had become about ME. I was trying desperately to cling to that quiet time at night. It was MINE, dammit.

A few nights ago, I let go. Our sweet boy began staying up with us in the evenings.

I was so concerned with losing my “me” time.

As a result, we’ve had “us” time… almost no tears at all at bedtime… we’ve had more cuddles, more playtime, more giggles… Just more.

On Friday night, we climbed into our bed, the three of us. I clicked on the flashlight on my phone, and we made shadow puppets on the ceiling. My boy fingered his fluffy blanket, smiling and laughing as his daddy made funny shapes and told stories.

Later, as Ryan and I sat in the quiet of the house, I realized that maybe that night was the best in my whole life.

That’s a big statement, but the sweetness, the pure innocence of it… I can’t remember feeling so complete, so deeply rooted in a moment.

These people… I mean, they are the reason I am in this space and time.

If there’s a lesson to be found, it’s probably that I simply need to let go. That’s not why I’m writing about this, though.

Really, I just want to remember it.

Most of my life, I’ve written to make sense of things. Now, I don’t have the time for the deep reflection necessary for that type of writing. Instead, I just want to record these perfect, beautiful snapshots of a life I never expected to have.

Nobody, but Nobody

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.
— Maya Angelou, “Alone”

07.26.2007

I wrote my way out of my childhood, discovering who I was in the spaces between words. There were times in my life that defied my ability to write about them, and for those, I found solace in the words of others.

2007 was one of those times.

It was the year that my first marriage quietly came to its final, legal end, taking with it the relationship I’d carefully erected my whole life around. It was also the year that I met the man who made that life implode.

That man… God, falling in love with that man was the most fun I’ve ever known in my life. It was a beautiful, exquisite torture.

And, on July 26, 2007, I was preparing to leave him. At one point in our relationship he told me he wanted space, so I was going to give it to him. (I remember writing that in my journal, and it still makes me smile.) I was moving 2,000 miles away, and I was leaving tomorrow.

I’d picked the next day, a Friday, because I knew his lease was ending on the 31st of the month and he’d be moving back home to a city 70 miles away in distance, but a million miles in other ways.

I didn’t know how to be left, so I was going to do the leaving. I knew how to do that.

That Thursday night, he made dinner at his apartment and we ate in front of the TV amid cardboard boxes. Every bite tasted of melancholy and anguish, as I waited to give him my final parting gift: an engraved bracelet with his initials on the front and the phrase “nobody, but nobody” on the smooth silver that would sit against his skin.

It was a reminder and perhaps a warning.

When he opened the black box, his face crumbled, and I mean CRUMBLED, and I realized that I didn’t know what this all meant to him, what I meant to him. At all.

I didn’t really believe that I was someone worth crying over. And, maybe, I didn’t believe I was someone worth loving.

I’d spent the whole relationship, no, my whole life living as if the sun rose and set only for me. To protect myself, I’d always made assumptions. I assumed that someone like him could never love someone like me. I assumed that my leaving and really my having been there, too, were scarcely more than blips on his radar. I assumed that the way he’d been distancing himself from me for months — even before he knew I was leaving — was because of some flaw in me.

What I’d never assumed, what I’d never even considered, in fact, was that I was the love of his life.

And, I was leaving him in less than 24 hours.