Thursday, July 31, 2014

So fast

Mommy blogging is like wading through a sea of clichés. I can no more escape it than a house of boys can escape pee. And I am now looking into the face of PRE-SCHOOL. I am both holding my Ben’s hand as he cautiously faces this massive change to come, and also gently swaying in his wake as he bravely marches forward into his new building, his new sand box, his new Big Boy world. [Ben actually says to me now that he does or doesn’t do things because he is a Big Boy.] A and I each took him to pre-school for a practice morning this week, in anticipation of his start later in August (French language Montessori school). I felt that classic heart swell watching him learning, earnest, focused. You could tell he was chuffed, and the Madames in the class seemed pleased. Ben, his moms, the people who love him, we’re all on this suddenly super fast charging train of pride, Ben’s growing up happening rapid fire this summer. First dressing himself, his ever more expressive vocabulary, potty training, then this. We were going to throw a single bed into the mix but haven’t summoned the will yet. I suppose it’s normal, that kids evolve in such a way most of the time that you only notice change when you haven’t seen them in a while; but then suddenly, they have quantum leaps that knock you over and leave you feeling dizzy and lost. No wonder he and his moms are having trouble sleeping, having nightmares and other crazy dreams. All change brings gifts and costs.


Too few thorns

Daniel, we promised to protect you from life’s thorns at your Welcoming Ceremony, until you’re ready to handle them yourself. We did so at Ben’s too. But there was one major difference between each of your metaphorically charged flowers. My poor sweet second-born baby, there were too few thorns on your rose! There were only a few to remove, maybe three, and I lost them. Ben’s had at least a dozen and I taped them into his baby book. Overall, Ben has also had the benefit/curse of being the first and the focus of all our new-parent anxiety and cautiousness. But now in our busy world it feels like life is just throwing hazards at you left and right, your knees perennially scraped, your face regularly bonked, and your delight in puddles getting me yelled at by the old half-naked neighbour guy to get my child out of the road (I wasn’t looking for maybe 5 seconds). You are a delightfully adventuresome guy, and it leads you into the face of danger every few moments, and I am not always there to keep you safe. How can I be? We do our best to child-proof, to put you in the care of competent, loving people, but you are good at finding the hole in the fence. And now potty training your bro, I am ever less present, finding it suddenly quiet after taking Ben for a poo and you at the top of the stairs! [We normally use a gate but he hasn’t needed it of late]. Maternal guilt is part of the package, I know. It’s not going anywhere. I just hope you know how much we love and cherish you, how important and special you are to us, how wanted you are. The hidden gift in all this will be your innate ability to handle challenges with aplomb, to stand up smiling from your falls, stronger, braver. You already are extraordinary. 


Dealing with dying

Tree of Life by Heather Watts
“Maman, when I’m gonna be a man, I’ll be dead.” My three and a half year old Ben has begun his lifelong wrestling with our fundamental state of reality: everything dies eventually. It’s what makes life possible, but it’s also what makes us crazy. My partner kept herself up endless nights as a young person worrying about death, what it would feel like, when it would come. The more A talks about it, the more folks come out of the closet with similar stories. She said it’s partly because she was given no framework to understand it, nor did her parents know she was grappling with the topic. How to save Ben from her fate? I have never worried about dying, at least not existentially. I went to many funerals as a child, and at age 11 held my Nana’s hand as she died peacefully in our home. [I’m fortunate though not to have experienced the death of children, or any violent deaths.] I am also blessed with a story I gave myself, a story I believe in, despite rational opposition from my brain. I know deep down that this isn’t the first time I’ve done this thing, Life. I know it won’t be the last. I’m not sure whether I believe each life is to teach us a particular set of lessons, leading to some nirvanic end point. But I like the theory, and I chose to work with what this life presents. I know our bodies will become compost, which has its own magic and beauty. I want that too, to be buried without a box, to become the earth. No energy or mass is ever gone, just rearranged, repurposed. Nature’s reincarnation. But that’s for our body, what of the soul? What can I, in good faith, say to my unformed son’s open eyes?

Here is what I want to say to Ben: This beautiful body of yours is the house for an even more beautiful soul; you can’t see it but you can feel it. I can feel it. It’s the most YOU of you, and it will never die, never be apart from the people you love. You are an essential piece of the Spirit of the World, of the Life that connects all things. A part of every living being that has died is in the caress of the wind. You have been part of the world since always, and you always will be. Will you always be Ben? No, you are Ben now and you are so much more too. When you breathe in, the air actually contains little pieces of others, of butterflies, of clouds and your body becomes them a tiny bit. They become you too. Your mothers’ job is to do our best to keep you safe, to help you take care of your body and soul so that this life can be long and happy. But one day, hopefully a very long time from now, your body will become part of the earth again, your soul set free to dance through the sky, to find a new body. So will ours. And we will find each other, again and again, forever. Blessed be!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Potty Boot Camp

Day 3. Morale waivers. Today has actually been a great day, lots of toilet use, one “wild” pee in the grass. Even a real, bonafide poo in the toilet. I hear that this is the piece de resistance of potty training. We have hit the home run!! Well, Ben is 3.5 years old, so there is that. You can’t say that he doesn’t get the concept. It’s just we never pushed it, and finally he needs to sort it out by September and we hustled things along cold-turkey (except pull-ups at night). We are deeply proud of him, to say the least. Great. So no problem right? Now ask us how the mothers are faring…. Poorly at best (brief moments of euphoria notwithstanding). We are both control oriented people, we like things tidy, we have a routine… This week-end has blasted that open. We cannot show frustration to our brave, struggling boy, so we turn on ourselves and each other and that spot on the floor (why won’t it come OUT?!?!). We have each had to take time outs of our own to cool off, decompress, recommit. Ben does “quiet time” each day he is home, for 30 min. He stays in the play-room (mostly), listens to music, does his stickers or whatever. I try and actually relax during that time since Daniel is napping. Today I dealt with phone operators while Ben yelled and pounded on the door until finally I went to end our mutual misery at the designated time, only to find that he had stickered his penis. He has also become deeply curious about his anatomy: “what is the hole the pee comes out of called?”, “what is the hole the poo comes out of called?” It’s all about holes. (What the heck is the pee hole called anyway??) So, now our child knows the term anus, knows the cats have one and has decided he doesn’t like the word (just “bum” please). Anyway, after removing the stickers, he proceeded to help me in the kitchen. Bless him. But he was naked on the lower half, and every time he heard water he thought he had to pee, would run to the toilet, aim, false alarm, hand wash (or not, chasing him, returning to bathroom, hand wash), undies, fight about undies, get a chocolate if he actually peed, inability to ignore his own now easily available body parts, more hand washing, repeat. Over and over. Cute, but massively disruptive to my attempt to attack the splats of mashed sweet potato dripping down the side of the cupboard, the cheese gunk stuck to the counter, the mountain of dishes from cooking and playing all this rainy day of Stuck At Home Learning to Potty. This is HUGE. I know it. Earthshattering to his existential sense of self. Plus, he gets one M&M for each pee, two for a poo. I am starting to feel like moms should get the same!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Land of milk and honey

It’s official: my baby has self-weaned completely at 16 months. My milk is draining away, the ducts are closing up shop, laying off workers, restructuring. I feel like I am crawling out of a dark (albeit cozy) den back into who or what I was before I became a food source. My cells will realign themselves to reflect the new me, since I am of course forever changed. From now on, I am the land of just honey, a source of sweetness and cuddles for both little boys. I will never go back; trying to reconnect with the “old me” is an illusion. Parenting, being a bio-mom, both roles are powerful and perennial and root out any weaker plants growing nearby. To grow a marriage relationship, to grow a new selfhood within this new reality, is going to take major grunt work and fertilizer. Maybe I’ll start tomorrow. These days, I crave the oblivion of good take-out sushi and Nashville on TV, or reading the teen fantasy series du jour. Through the blessed fog, I know that I deeply crave connection with A. I am grieving the loss of nursing Daniel, though it has thankfully been a slow process (kind little guy!). But my heart and body are ready to get back on the A-train, to start making time to re-route ourselves onto a better track. It’s now or never. In the hustle of our family life, it’s not easy to remember to notice each other, or to reach out. Sometimes it suddenly is though, like a surprise movie cuddle (for me) or coffee made (for her). Recently I can feel the wind shifting, this hot summer weather mixed with a cool breeze from the lake are both portents of sweet things coming to us. I’m not “back” exactly, but it feels something like that. It will be an evolving process, the little deaths of doors closing leave space for living a new me, a new us. And hey, I’m all honey now!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bedtime boobie blues

You really don’t want it? It’s your magic elixir, to nourish and sustain you, to keep you safe. It’s the best of me. Less and less these days, no day-time feeds, and now tonight, nothing. Not a drop. My heart is aching. I know it’s not personal, and I am so proud of your growing 14 month old self. You are adventurous and funny and brave. Lately you’ve become a huggy, cuddly guy too, so very appreciated. You roll with it so often, our second-child neglect, an elder brother’s ministrations, the many bumps in your gung-ho day. I know you are your own person, heading straight into the arms of Life, but are you so ready to leave our little nursing nest? Don’t you crave that succour after your busy day? You turned away in disdain from mother’s milk this evening, told me to give you your dragon and put you to bed. Oh Daniel, I’m not sure I’M ready. I’ve got your back little man, but please don’t leave me behind…