Saturday, February 26, 2011

Almost One

I can’t believe my son is almost one year old. Or, I can. This year has been more full, more ripe, more exhausting, and more wonderful than any that have come before, and so, in that sense, it certainly feels like a year’s worth of experiences have passed. But on the other hand, babies grow and change so fast. At times I’ll pause and stare at my son and try to imprint what he is like right now, for I know that in just another month or two, this current stage will seem like a blur. I can’t recall with any hint of precision the subtleties of any stages that have passed, for this day and what my son needs from me right now commands so much of my attention.

So I’ll say it again: I can’t believe my son is almost one year old, because this phrase is somehow grounding, and because I want, through the act of writing, to will myself to sense what this passage of time feels like: in my body, my heart.

I feel the need to have some sort of ritual to mark this passage—less a birthday party full of presents for Cedar, more a private day for me to meditate on his birth, our birth, not to mention the journey me and his father have been on, all we’ve learned, all the challenges we’ve met, and all the joy that this little being brings to our life.

Joy. So much joy. Never a morning where I don’t delight in waking and hearing Cedar’s first naa. And then a chorusing chant: naa, naa, naa. Or else maas, baas and daas. Never a day where I am not moved anew when hearing his giggles, seeing his hands quiver in excitement, or feeling him bury his head in my shoulder when he hasn’t fully woken or when he’s shyly turning away from someone new. I cannot get enough of my son. I miss him when I’ve been away for only a few hours, which, in truth, is about the most that I ever get away.

Cedar. I feel like I can’t write about you from the depths that I want to; everything feels like some generalization, or like something I’ve already written or heard someone else say before. Maybe it would be better if I sat down and wrote you a letter. Talked to you, and by extension, to me, directly. Because you are still an extension of my body. I still feel that. I hold you as you nap, a stomach gurgles, and I’m not sure if it’s yours or mine. I hear you cry and your call pulls straight from my heart. I wear you close to my body and we keep each other warm, move and bend and sway all day in one essential rhythm.

Cedar. Sometimes I wonder if I’m overly protective, if this kind of mothering is somehow wired into my blood. If I keep you too close to me, if I should let you play on the floor more by yourself, or shouldn’t pick you up so much at your slightest provocation. Maybe I should bring you to more playgroups, maybe if you were around other babies more then you would see the way they move and explore and it would encourage you to learn to crawl. But here we are most days, just me and you at home, playing together on the floor, moving through the house and yard, tending to chores and needs: laundry, dishes, plants, mail, food prep, eating, peeing, shitting, putting on jackets and shoes. We’re a unit, and I talk to you all day long, talk to myself, tell you what we’re doing, where we’re going, point out the doggies and birds. Sometimes it’s also nice to be silent, like when we lie on the bed and nurse, staring out the window at the trees or staring into each others eyes. And we do see other people of course: Popo, Grandpa, Grandma, one Auntie or another. And Papa of course, each evening, who walks through the door to your smiling surprise and throws you high in the air.

But for the most part, it’s just you and me, babe. And because of this, no one else knows how to care for you like I do. I can’t help but want to supervise when others are in charge and make sure that you have enough clothes on, that your food or bath water are not too hot, that your creams and lotions have been applied in all the crucial spots, and that you are not left by yourself for too long while adults try to get other things done. Yes, I am an attentive mama. And yes, who knows, maybe if I wasn’t always there ready to pick you up when you are frustrated, or to put a new toy in front of you when you get bored, then maybe you might have learned to move more on your own. Or maybe not. Maybe this is just who you are, and how you are wired to develop. Maybe I need to banish all thoughts of blaming myself for this one. Probably the last thing in the world I need to feel bad about is being too attentive. And yet, I can’t help but wonder if I am too sensitive at times—too sensitive to your every cry.

Now, eleven months after your birth, my body still tenses when I hear you cry out at night, and my heart still yearns for you with a hint of anxiety as I make my way back to you after a few-hour break. Not as much as in the beginning of course, not like those early months where my body was constantly poised, on alert, ready to spring out of the chair to your side.  I have changed, as have you. You’re becoming more your own person every day, less a little ball of helpless dependency.  You now survive on more than just mama’s milk. And you can protest, request, make yourself known with gestures and sounds and silliness. I love your silliness. I love our spontaneous jokes that emerge out of mama doing something random that you find hilarious, like tearing off a piece of beef jerky with my teeth, then doing it over and over with more ferocity to hear you laugh in hysterics.  I love discovering what excites you, intrigues you, makes your eyes widen in surprise.

Yet beneath these small delights, our daily routine, and sometimes, yes, tedium, there is an undercurrent. A tugging place where my heart is wide and gaping. Sometimes strained and aching. An invisible, malleable force binds us together, and the farther or longer we are stretched apart, the greater a tension that eventually snaps us back together with a whooshing embrace.

Cedar. My child. Hush now. Here I am. Mama will always be here. My need for you is as strong as your need for me. We are connected in ways that I can barely grasp with these words.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Too Tired to Write

Right now, I feel a little depressed. It's one of my few precious afternoons to write, however, I'm too tired to focus. 

First, I needed to take a shower, vacuum the floor, sort through old mail, and sit by the window with a cup of tea. Then, though still tired, I forced myself to move to my computer to either finish a blog post I started a couple weeks ago, or to start a new one. It depresses me when I leave a piece of writing hanging too long, it depresses me that I can't just whip out a post in one sitting. It depresses me when I go too many weeks without writing, for certainly there is no shortage of things to say. There's just too little time, this same old story. Too many missed opportunities to go write, because instead we are visiting friends one weekend, or instead, I decide I'd rather hang out with my husband and baby at home. To go to the cafe, sit and focus for two hours and pound something out takes discipline. I deserve a break. 

Only breaks don't feel so good in the long run, because breaks don't produce new writing. 

So, today, I finally hauled my ass over to my desk. My computer is working a lot faster these days, thanks to finally adding more memory and paying someone to clean it up for me, only now, I discovered that after the person cleaned out a bunch of cat hair from beneath the keys, the space bar is sticky and won't work unless I pound it with my thumb. Needless to say, this did not aid the process of sitting down to write, when my whole tired body and mind was already resistant. Instead, I decided it was way overdue that I go lay down on my bed and cry.

I'm surprised I haven't cried more as a new mom. I used to look forward to a good monthly cry-- or at least every few months. But interestingly, I've barely cried at all lately, and it's not for lack of surging hormones. I think I'm just too damn busy. At the end of the day, I'd rather sleep than dwell in my emotions. Or, I can't drink enough wine while breastfeeding to get me to that place that several glasses used to open up access to (cue dark, melancholy music, some Damien Jurado perhaps, or Bjork's Vespertine if I'm really feeling angsty.) In any case, I haven't been crying much lately. Perhaps it's because I'm so damn happy and content. Part of me is joking here, and part of me is completely serious. Living my daily life with Cedar, a part of me is wildly happy, in love, and content. Meanwhile, somewhere in my underbelly, the lover of solitude, wind, and aimless wandering seethes, plots, and rebels. She wants more time. Alone. To write. Or drink. And dance.

But anyway. So my computer wasn't allowing my words to flow, so I went to lie down and cry. Cried a little, felt a little better, and contemplated Plan B. I could go bring it back to the computer store and have them fix it right now, but use up the rest of my break from motherhood doing so. I could go pick up Cedar early and beg my mom to watch him again tomorrow, whereupon I could get a fresh start (and hopefully get more sleep tonight). Or, lightbulb flash, I could use my husband's laptop and just sit down and compose directly into this blog and hit publish, instant gratification. Even if I would not be writing about one of the topics I've been yearning to write about, at least I'd get something out there, not risk another week or two of cyberspace silence. 

So here I am. On a beautiful, sunny, early Spring day, sitting inside, in a silent home, listening to the wind blow the branches outside, blow the chimes from the North, as my fingers click the smooth keys. Sitting with wet hair, watching the time tick, always, measuring how much time I have left-- on my own, or before Cedar goes to sleep, or before he's bound to wake up again, which he still does, all night long.

I'm exhausted. Yet I've adapted. I get by on less sleep than I ever thought I could, and I think I'm doing pretty good, even finding time to read novels, email friends, pay bills. And yet, my brain is a little soft and fuzzy. I am not very articulate. I do not have any excess reserves of energy. I am multi-tasking all day long with a baby hanging from my body, constantly making lists and trying to get things done, trying to cross things off my list so I'll feel better about myself, my day, my life. So I can feel somewhat productive. 

And I am hungry. I have been deprived of cheese, coffee, garlic and tomatoes for too long. I want a prize for all my effort. I want to know that I'm making the right choices when it comes to feeding my baby solids. I want reassurance that it's okay that I haven't started giving him meat, and grains, and foods with lots of iron. Or that the benefits of going slow and being cautious with what and how I introduce foods to him, outweigh whatever vitamins he might be missing out on. I mean, he hardly looks malnourished-- that's what the naturopath said, too. And he's getting most everything he needs from my breastmilk, my breastmilk which I should be proud that I am still producing abundantly, my breastmilk which he still drinks hungrily every few hours each day. But still, you hear so much conflicting advice as a mother, and who has the time to do in-depth research? You grab at pieces of advice here and there, whatever sounds about right, and hope your intuition fills in for whatever gaps in knowledge you may have. You try not to worry too much about all the things you worry about. You know, all in all, you are doing a great job. You try to breathe and just flow with your days. Make your lists. Get around to things when you do. Some things might stay on your list for months, even years (like fixing my computer). But eventually, you do get around to almost everything. No one but you really knows this, so you must congratulate yourself, pat yourself on the back, cross them off with dark, decisive strokes. 

Anyway, where am I going with this? Nowhere, really. Is this a rant? Not really. Just a sigh. A deep sigh that says, I am not mentally equipped today to write about what I really want to write about, not with sensitive lyricism and wit. Nope. So I'll just go easy on myself by writing this, writing whatever stream of conscious blather comes to mind, at the same time that I'm not really going easy on myself at all, because I'm not entirely capable of that. I would only feel more depressed if I decided to crawl in bed for the duration of my precious time off, or sit in the sun, or god forbid, watch a movie. I do enough mindles sitting around all day with Cedar, granted, I know it's not the same as truly having a moment alone just to sit and breathe. But, I compromise. I give you this. I give myself this. This act of writing to soften the edges of the blues. This act of writing to sharpen the mush of isolation.


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