Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Integrating birth

I had another dream last night about being pregnant. I think that’s the fifth in the last while. I am always surprised about how it happened! Sometimes I wonder if A will be mad, like I went behind her back… I’m not sure why I’m dreaming about pregnancy. Is it Mama Nature tugging at me while She can? Is it just normal? I was looking at videos and pictures of myself right after Daniel’s birth, remembering his squishy face and cone head and deep eyes. Remembering how I’d almost given up, how I’d said “never again” after pushing him out. The love of a parent is a strange and potent thing, or maybe all love makes us blind. Maybe I’m dreaming of having another baby because mine is growing so fast, climbs everything, doesn’t always want kisses anymore, or says things like “boom, boom, music in the sky” about thunder.

I have another theory about why that dream keeps repeating. I’ve been an achy mama since Daniel’s birth. He’s two and a half already and my hips and knees are still acting like I became a granny not a bio-mom! How many moms groan when they stand up from the floor? Ok, maybe I’m not alone. What if it’s my body chattering to me? Am I listening? Could it be saying, “Listen mama, you’re really sad. Your heart is breaking a little watching him get further away each day. Giving birth to D was the most intense thing that ever happened to you and have you processed that?? Pay attention to me, I was his first home and I am hurting.” I am not sure I am ready to hear you body, because if I do, maybe I’ll let the pain go and won’t have a daily reminder that for a little while he was all mine.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Four year old family

Our family turned four this week with the celebration of Ben’s birthday! We always remind him that although he has to share his mothers, he will always be the one who made us a family. Our first everything. The guinea pig for two overenthusiastic, overly-read parents. He has two MOTHERS for heaven’s sake J

Normally A puts him to bed, but on Mondays I have the privilege of guiding him into la-la land (lying with him for the few minutes it takes him to fall asleep has changed our life for the better). Tonight he drifted off with his forehead pressed to mine, our breathing becoming in sync. I told him I loved him forever and he replied, “I love you forever Maman”. Melt my heart, that boy is a love machine sometimes. It’s extra dear to me now because he and I have been having some challenges connecting lately. He’s said some classic, mean, kid stuff to me, and though I’m accepting the kid/Neanderthal place he’s coming from sometimes, some of his words were starting to seep through the barrier. I want him to know that I not only love him, but like him too, that I look forward to seeing him. I’m not sure he knows that all the time, since his unique person-hood includes some strong feelings and actions that make me feel nuts and push my monster buttons. It should come naturally I suppose, for a kid to just know how you feel. A partner too, just read my mind! Instead it takes practice, hearing every time Ben calls my name, noticing and commenting on what fires him up with joy and concentration, my eyes lighting up when he comes home. I think it’s working too, since he really snuggled me tonight and every chamber of my heart is glowing.

Luckily his little bro and he are getting along better too. God they're cute. Daniel has finally succumbed to Ben's longstanding desire for a peer wrestling partner. Ben and I wrestle on the play room mattress most evenings, Ben being thrown around, pillows going "poosh" onto each other, laughter erupting. It's really precious to me (and I think him). But I know he's wanted Dee to play since he was born, really play with him. I caught them the other night on our (low) bed, jumping and pillow fighting and giggling so much. BOTH of them. No crying. Amazing. I really hope Dee realizes how great it can be to play along to his Ben’s games and imaginative ideas, and how lucky he is to have such a caring and thoughtful big bro.

Sustaining loving relationships IS a practice. Like yoga, or eating well. It may come in fits and starts, but pretty soon you get into the flow… Your body unfurls, your breathing deepens, your cells rest in full nourishment. Suddenly a big, little boy, soft in his “footie jammas” is holding onto you like you being there really matters. Happy birthday sweet thing.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Caught poo-handed

It’s certainly no record, but I have literally had poo on my hands four times today. It came from a combination of toddler diaper changing, preschooler bum wiping and the discovery of poo of mysterious canine origin under Daniel's boots. The latter had apparently affixed itself to his tiny boot yesterday. It had been frozen so I hadn't noticed. And I carried Daniel in on my hip last night, so while grocery shopping with the boys today I discovered the business crusted around the bottom of my coat. They took it in stride of course; poo is everywhere and their mums deal with it. Honestly, I think we socially construct its "gross" factor. Biologically we're probably wired to avoid it, for health reasons, but I've seen very little sign of either of my boys finding it intrinsically gross. Why do I blog about these precious anecdotes? Mostly to share a laugh with you and avoid any tears. Perhaps also to demonstrate my maturing motherhood with my apparent equanimity (slash apathy) about it all. 

On another note, unrelated to poo, though no less gross, I dismantled the high chair yesterday and put it away, probably for good. I was aware that it ought to be an emotionally fraught activity, and I did feel waves of nostalgia and a bit of shock at the speed of time passing. Mostly I felt the 3+ years of accumulated crust and crud from every nook and cranny upon my hands. And oh, there was this secret treasure stash under the basket of bibs and cloths, a prehistoric compaction of dried tofu, Cheerios once congealed together and now almost indecipherable from each other, and one lonely vitamin. I bet the lot could make a science grad student's day somewhere.

To top it off, mothers (and anyone with a period really) have to manage these shenanigans while also surviving the monthly onslaught of hormones! You'd think we'd be given a reprieve, having used our reproductive bits productively. I guess Mother Nature wants us feeling moody and questionably hygienic until we can't possibly push out another bundle of joy. Being in tune with the Earth's cycles, such bliss. 

Going to pop another Advil cuz now I just feel poopy.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Get out of the way of the Way

I read the Tao of Pooh some time ago, and am currently, finally, reading the original Taoist mystical text, the Tao Te Ching. That is, my eyes are reading the words on the page. Not much useful happens next. The Tao is a tough text to understand; its depth, endless. It’s about The Way (Tao), integrity, yin/yang, the nature of Life. I don’t pretend to be a true scholar, and just writing about the Tao is a quagmire of confusion, but here’s an excerpt of how I’m playing with the ideas lately:

I am standing washing dishes for the umpteenth evening in a row, adrenaline coursing through me, my breath shallow, as I wait for A’s telltale steps down the stairs signalling “all is well with our now sleeping children”. Some powerful hidden anger overtakes me one evening, I believe it was a Saturday after a long day outside. A rage-filled roar in my head shouts: HOW HAVE I LET MYSELF BE TRAMPLED BY FEAR??? The children (Ben) will fall asleep eventually, it is the Way. Parents (me) agonize over it, to the point of feeling traumatized. My roiling insides begged for mercy, for me to get out of the way of my own self-torture. It’s been life changing.

Dry rice is falling all over the floor, getting stuck into every nook and cranny of the kitchen, Daniel’s diaper, the toaster oven, everywhere. The boys are playing with it, merrily scooping it from bowl to bowl with a variety of utensils, happy as clams. It is the Way of children everywhere. Keeping a clean house as a parent is not. Neither is letting myself freak out about it.

Years of trying to get pregnant. Lots of asking “Why me??” with no good answers. Asking “why me?” is not the Way. A friend who recently experienced a miscarriage told me she is no longer beholden to believing in Karma. She no longer thinks it was anything but “shit” happening. Shit happening is the Way. What we do about it is what matters. I asked if she thinks things happen for a reason. She said she does, but not in a personal way, rather in the “Way things are” kind of way.

Lately, I have been feeling like the less I resist the Way of Life, the easier everything is to take. Duh. Like the classic pop psych maxim “resistance is persistence” I am slowly letting go of the illusion of control. It’s a mind game, and playing it, I win so much back! My joy in watching the children being children, my gratitude for their lives, my appreciation of the simplicity of our family existence right now. I am taking care to check my brain regularly: Am I getting in my own way right now? Is my brain making up stories for which I am suffering needlessly? Am I present to love?

The Way is the Way. How we experience it is up to us.


Rattley Bumpa

NB: this was written in early October.

The sound a pick-up truck makes driving near a fresh construction sit. The name of a great kids’ book. The feeling of my heart beating erratically in this moment. It’s been a doozy of a month with my older son Ben starting pre-school, saying goodbye to the crib/toddler bed and none of us sleeping through the night once yet since it all started. I have a benign heart arrhythmia, which is apparently very common. It was really bad when Ben was an infant; so much so that I saw a heart specialist, got a (clear) echocardiogram, wore a holter monitor for 24 hrs and had blood tests. The results, apart from being relatively reassuring, did nothing to curb the missing beat. My blood pressure is also outrageously low (80/50 or something). Eventually it went away. Didn’t really rear its head when Daniel was born. Just now, around the time Ben was going to start pre-school. I have different philosophical and existential explanations for these phenomena. Being deeply empathic to your offspring is a mixed blessing and so our own foundation is shaken along with theirs when paradigms shift in their little lives. Some of that is our own projection, either of what we think they must be going through or tapping into our own childhood grief. They say having kids is like watching your heart walking around outside your body, only moderately being able to protect it. The whole thing [love] is epic. All I know is that when I am earth rattlingly worried and overtired, in the way that Ben deftly inspires, my heart starts screaming! It goes boom, boom, boom – pause – adrenaline shot – breath intake – massive boom! Over and over. I feel like I should take off like a rocket!

I just left Ben’s bedroom after watching that precious kid go to sleep and then giving him some Reiki. Alongside the usual mantras and energy involved was a bone-deep, soul aching plea that I could ever fill him up with enough healing energy and strength to make up for my anger, frustration and shortcomings, not to mention all the other daily afflictions in his young sensitive person’s life.

Oh sweet Ben, how you set my heart aflutter!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Down some other road

I’ve been thinking about words lately, lyrics in particular. Artists write them down because they have something to say (besides any pressure I’m sure they also experience!). Everyone has something to say so it begs the question: what would your song be? What would be mine?

La, la, la,
I tried to get pregnant and then 5 years later did. 
Thought about a dog but I’m glad I had a kid. 
Stuck here in the house while my baby snoozes on. 
Happy that he is so I thought I’d write this song!

A sure hit! Maybe I’d sing about the various trials of childrearing (pick one), or a love song (for sure). Right now I’d rant a rock anthem about how on this extremely rare afternoon alone (save sleeping baby), when I’d planned to finally start an iMovie about the kids, the application won’t open (long story). A and Ben are in the Big City having Big City adventures, donuts, dumplings, subway rides, the works. I feel a little lost actually, un-tethered. My main purpose these days is the fam; it’s been halved and I am with the not-especially-conversant half. Oh, we’ve had fun, precious time, but the dynamic is so different without B&A around. Those two drive me nuts sometimes but I already miss ‘em. I guess we’re all pretty attached, as evidenced by the upheaval in our home re: Ben starting pre-school. Neither parent has been sleeping well, anxiety is high. Ben is miserable every morning, happy every afternoon. Such a roller coaster! For me, it feels hard to set him loose into a bigger world. His former daycare was so small and cushy. It’s an act of faith really: in our choice, in the timing, in him most of all. We certainly question the decision, regularly contemplating selling the house, buying an RV like that Kellogg family with the heap of kids (12!), and just homeschooling along the way. School of life. Now doesn’t that sound like [crazy] fun?

All that extra free time gave me the gift of a song instead of a movie. The words are below, with a tune partly inspired by “Wrong song” on Nashville. I attached my very low-tech, real-person-voice, Guitar Band recording of it, if you dare. It’s a song for Ben (who belts out “Wrong song”)…

Down some other road

Wouldn’t it be nice to stay in bed on rainy days?
Counting out the many toes, under our duvet
But life’s too short to hide inside our heads or homes my son
Grab the wheel, resolve of steel, and let’s go for a drive!

Hop in the van, child, it’s gonna get wild
Life ain’t all roses, though it comes with a smile
So much to see, so much to be, so this is life…
Driving you down some other road

Take me by the hand, baby, get a little crazy
Clouds are a formin’ and it seems a little hazy
But I swear on my life there’s a rainbow along for the ride…
Driving you down some other road