Something new is happening to me. It feels somewhere between waking up and breaking open. Something between being newborn and fresh in the morning, and feeling a warmth spilling out of a cracked open casing. It is a pleasant, tingly sensation that I can feel everywhere, like a dam is continuously and gently bursting, sending rivulets around my core and limbs. It’s not entirely comfortable though, since with it comes the light of truth. I think I have been sleep walking through these last two years as a parent and have missed irreplaceable treasures. Not the sleep walking of the new parent rocking their infant incessantly, nor the existential trip of new identities and lifestyles. Those have been true too of course. It’s something deeper, like I wasn't entirely there. My heart breaks to think of it, of what I have missed. I know I was partially there, and that it’s not 100% true. But A has said more than once that she has noticed a subtle energetic absence from me, a holding back, especially the first year of Ben's life. It is partially based in the embarrassing admittance of resenting her physical relationship with Ben, the pregnancy, everything I couldn't have or do. It is also sadly based on occasionally resenting having a child and the immense giving of self needed to which A dutifully engaged immediately and without question. It's like I was a robot, changing diapers, going through the motions. I may just be having a mood these days, being 29 weeks pregnant, and be seeing things askew. But I know in my gut that it’s partially true because I know how different it feels in my body now to love Ben, and to love A as a co-parent.
So what happened? I can’t say for sure. But A and Ben went on a big trip for over a week without me and I had a lot of space to reflect and sleep in. Although I also had fun while they were away, when they left I wept miserably and lived to see Ben’s face each day on Skype. I made his year two baby album and edited together the home videos of his life up until now. Listening to his baby gurgles each day that week, something about the innocence, his beauty, they wormed their way through some barrier. I was also highly attuned to A’s daily traumatic sleep stories of our not-so-great-wee-traveler. I also received a very intense osteopathic treatment (which deserves its whole own post, apparently I am an osteopathic anomaly, darn red heads!) which focused in part on some energetic damage in my rib cage and back around my heart. When they got home, I held and held Ben. I looked him in the eyes. I feel like we met again, silently agreed on something. Like I made a hushed promise even I couldn't hear to be fully present from now on to his humanity, to his astounding self.
I think every parent mourns the passing of time, even when times are tough. Pictures and videos help, and are precious. Thank you technology. But we can never get our babies back, their firsts, the moments slipping by unnoticed amidst the meal planning and sleep training (yet another bout of which I managed post-trip, but with a gentleness, ease and sense of faith unlike any I've felt before). The best we can do is to be as fully present as possible in each moment, to really pay attention to our kids. Especially in the face of all that threatens to hurt them, our family, or our time together.
I am waking up, and breaking open. I am waking open, and the bitter sweetness that threatens to overwhelm me is also my salvation as Ben’s and this next baby boy’s loving Maman.