Monday, December 27, 2010

Thank You

Almost two weeks ago, Cedar and I were rear-ended while heading over to my parents' house. I was stopped at a light behind two other cars on Lake City Way (a busy four-lane street), and I never saw it coming. Thankfully, neither of us were hurt, with the exception of some neck and back strain that I am getting treatment for now. But the impact was a shock to the system. Cedar started crying right away, and the scariest part of this whole experience for me was hearing him and not knowing initially if he was okay. Thankfully, he stopped crying soon after I got him into my arms. Dazed and disoriented, I exchanged information with the lady who hit me, and quickly joined my family who helped me to process the experience and the next steps to take. Cedar was smiling and back to his usual self within minutes, but my hands didn’t stop shaking for over an hour.

Thank God it wasn’t more serious. Thank God for seat belts and car seats. Thank God that I don’t have to deal with any more hassle than the visits with insurance agents, auto body shops, and chiropractors, and the lingering tightness in my back and neck. These things will pass and soon enough we will be back to our normal routine.

I want to take this opportunity to reflect on what else I am thankful for right now. I want to praise all that is positive, growing, improving, and illuminating in my life, for I know that I often write more in this blog on what is difficult or frustrating. It’s important for me to process what is challenging, of course, and parenting provides no end of material in this department, but if I had more time I would take care to regularly honor all that is encouraging and beautiful too. For despite the ongoing struggles, I am happy and thankful for my daily existence and for all the growth and wonderment that motherhood has gifted me.

So as we keep leaning into the coming of lighter days, here are a few other things I am grateful for:
  1. New friendships. Although I often bemoan a lack of time for so many things, one pursuit that I have actually had more time for since becoming a mom is the pursuit of friendship. Most of the new friends I have made in the last year or two are also new moms. Some I’ve met through my PEPS group, and others are old friends and acquaintances I’ve connected with through Facebook. As new moms, there is so much we share in common, so much we have to learn from each other, and so much we can offer each other simply by understanding the depth, strain and joy of experiencing motherhood. Even if I see these moms less often now than I did during those first few months when more of them were on maternity leave, I still feel and value their presence in my life enormously.

  1. Old friends and sisters. You know who you are, you ladies who have been with me since high school and college, or even earlier. You women who listen to me like no others, who hear me on deep levels, who inspire me with your creativity and passion, and who are the most remarkable aunties that Cedar could ever hope for. I am so very grateful you are in my life.

  1. The overall improvement in Cedar’s gas and rash. The slow, but continuous expansion of my diet. Figuring out exactly what Cedar is allergic or sensitive to, even if it’s taken a lot of effort, self-sacrifice, repeated mistakes, frustration, doctor’s visits, guesswork, nights of watching my baby suffer, and general overall struggle. But all this effort has been worth it, and now, my baby is happier and I have learned to be more aware than ever before of what I put into my body.

  1. Having my family close by. Watching my mom and dad’s growing delight in Cedar. Knowing that he will feel comfortable, safe, and loved with his grandparents and aunts and uncles. Knowing that I have someone to leave him with in a pinch, if need be. Knowing that me and Cedar are supported by my family’s love.

  1. Me and Cedar’s daily routine. Having a nap schedule I can count on, for now, which allows me to better plan and flow with my day. The mellowness of our rhythm, the small pleasures. Waking slowly and playing with Cedar’s bear in bed. Drinking my coffee and checking email while he plays on the floor. Cedar’s naps in my arms while I sit in the recliner, drink more coffee, journal, and read. Our walks to the Meadowbrook pond where we look at the ducks in the water, the crows in the sky, and the trees overhead. Our slow strolls through the yard around the house, with Cedar in the Ergo or Bjorn, examining bushes and leaves. Our winding down times, nursing and reading books on the bed, reading “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?”, playing his favorite throw the blanket over his head game.

  1. And while I’m at it, all the small, ever-changing things about Cedar that I love. The way he claps his hands in delight. The way he growls, or smacks his lips. The way his hands and arms quiver in excitement when he sees Miles, our cat, or when you’re holding something he wants. His emerging personality: a mix of quiet watchfulness with silly playfulness and curiosity. Watching him learn every day and grow aware of everything.

  1. The fact that my husband was able to find a job that he loves in less than two months in the midst of this recession, and that he is now able to be home with us every night instead of on the road. Watching my husband play with and watch his son. The cozy feeling of being a family, creating new rituals like going to a pumpkin patch or decorating a Christmas tree. Lying in bed together, the three of us, cuddling. Our rare date nights (or rather, date afternoons). Too rare, but that much more delectably pleasurable for that reason. The way we understand each other, always have, wordlessly. The new challenges we face, that are hard, no doubt, but that I know we will keep learning from.

  1. And finally (I could go on, but I’ll stop here so I can actually finish this post), I am grateful for this blog. For this outlet, for this ritual, and for the constant sense that I have something I need to explore and say about motherhood, about writing, about life. I am grateful for this life that is intense and new and hard enough that it keeps my compulsion to process it through words burning and immediate, but not so hard that I am left with no energy or time at all.

And I am grateful for you, my readers, whoever you are, because this knowledge that I am writing for both myself and for others motivates me to sit down each week and write, even when my mind initially protests that it’s too spacey or tired. For years I labored away on personal essays and a collection of memoirs, getting my MFA, attending classes, submitting work to my writing group, and revising pieces over and over and over again as I refined my voice and craft. This process was important to me and my growth as a writer, but after submitting my work to literary journals for years, waiting months for replies, and getting so close to being accepted to this journal or that one, but again and again rejected, it is such a blessed liberation to take a break from one narrow mode of publication, and instead to be able to put my thoughts out there, raw, immediate and less refined. Instantly accessible to family and friends, less digested and “perfect.” But out there, nevertheless, and read, and appreciated. I know, because you’ve told me so. Thank you.

During this time when I often don’t feel like I have much of a life, body, or space that I can call my “own,” this blog has been a lifeline to my creativity, my sanity, and to my overall sense of wholeness and balance. And more than this, it is also a major way that I have maintained a sense of connection to a greater community, whether this community is my father whom I would not be able to share my thoughts in such a nuanced way with in person, or whether this community is a stranger who has randomly stumbled across my words.

Thank you, blog. Thank you, friends. Thank you, husband, family, baby, home, universe. Thank you for everything you have given and continue to give me. I am so blessed, I know this. And as we enter this new year, my wish is that you may all know and cherish your blessings, too.

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