Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bleh-brain, Toddler Whining, and Poop

I'm having one of those 'mom aspiring to still be a writer' moments where I have a limited amount of time to tackle one of several writing projects (one of which is updating this blog); I'm hungry, tired, need to prep dinner, and have a ton of other little things I could do (Internet, networky, business-like things that I often don't feel like doing when I collapse on the sofa at the end of the night). 

1.5 hours of my break has already gone by, and all I've done is: stuff potato chips and cheese-its (or the organic natural version anyway) down my throat, make two cups of green tea (and still feeling sleepy), send out a couple posts about my upcoming workshop (please, register, you know you want to, I'll make it cheaper, please?), flit about on the PEPS leader site searching for appropriate resources for my group, stare at the fragments of a new piece I have brewing, and type out a frazzled "what to do free-write" before wandering to the bathroom to trim my nails. 

I'm narrowing in on only having an hour left. I don't think I have it in me to tackle that piece-- it feels too big, too important, too much requiring a certain energetic space to go there, a space that I cannot go to if I know I'll have to leave it again soon (I know, this is the excuse that all people use when they are time-crunched, and I know it IS possible to just CUT THROUGH and begin writing anyway, but every so often we are allowed to indulge in this excuse and just say, frack it, not today). 

I contemplated just giving up on all things "productive" and going to have some "fun" in this last hour alone before picking up my son, but then I asked myself, what would I do? For me, especially these days, "fun" means writing for the blog or doing something that feels worthy of giving my precious break to. "Wasting time" does not sound like fun to me. I would read a book if I had one I was really into, but I don't, so even that feels like a diversion and not an activity that will bring waves of indulgent pleasure. And so... I decided that I WOULD just sit down and blog, never-mind that I don't have an all-important TOPIC that I'm dieing to write about, never-mind that I might bore you (sorry), because when it comes down to it, it's been too long since I've written here, and ultimately, it is me I need to keep this here blog up for, profound and greatly-read entry or NOT.

Some of the more involved topics that I've considered writing about lately (but that I don't have the energy or will for now) include: still breastfeeding Cedar, who is nearing age two; watching Cedar grow into a boy, the subtle yet profound shifts that surprise and delight me each day, but also give me a tinge of sadness as I realize how fast it will go; and writing about this awesome writing workshop I attended last weekend that helped me remember and tap into the power of metaphor.  

For some reason, it's still really hard for me to just sit down and blog a few paragraphs. I guess I am just that kind of wordy writer. Or else I still fear that if I post something random and not super meaningful to me, that some person will only read that post and judge my writing as that. Bleh. I'm considering whether this current bleh-fest is even gonna make it to the Internet as it is.

Do I have ANYTHING profound to say today? My son is teething and has been keeping me awake more (again) than usual. He has been especially into his "milk". I still love breastfeeding him, but I have to say, the whiny-tired-toddler voice demanding his milk is not the part I enjoy. Actually, I've been pointing out to him lately what it means to "whine." "Are you whining?" I'll ask him when he gets that eh-eh-eh thing going. He knows what this means now, so it will stop him and he will get this sly smile. "Can mama whine too?" I tease. "Eh eh eh!" I copy him. He grins. "Now, can Cedar whine?" And he whines some more, this time our private joke. I'm trying to teach him to "use his words", in preschool speak. And he's getting it, and getting more and more words to actually use all the time. Like he can say, "Help." (But of course, usually says it in that whiny voice). And so I'm teaching him to say, "Please", simply because it sounds better to the ear, and it's a part of our cultural lexicon that he should know if he doesn't want to annoy people, but that said, it still strikes me as kind of meaningless at this point. It's just teaching him an extra sound or syllable to latch on the end of his demands. I suppose that eventually he'll understand that it is what is expected of him, and that it can help him get his way, but it won't necessarily teach him to feel more respectful or polite. 

Anyway, we're just introducing certain concepts now that we'll be able to better explain and make more meaningful later when he can be that much more aware of emotions-- his own, and other peoples.  We are also paving the way for potty training, which I'm not in a hurry to do, but now that he is more aware that he is pooping when he is pooping, and now that he can actually squeeze out a fart on demand (and laugh with us afterward; family fart humor preparation is already well-established), we figure it's a good time to start talking to him about what is happening, and what will eventually happen when he gets to go on a potty, too. 

Step one: actually show him his poop. I avoided doing this up until now, because I feared it might lead to an inconvenient curiosity with looking at (or even touching?) his poop. Better to not let him see the strange globs that come out of him, or to know what we are wiping from him every day? Well, up until now, I figured so much. But now I have shown him, and now every time he wants to "See? See?" And I hold up the poopy diaper to show him, and he smiles and says, "Cedee..." his name for himself. Proudly, as if to say, yup, that's my poop!

Speaking of poop, at the writing workshop I went to last weekend, I was supposed to write a metaphor about how I was feeling that day, and I picked the color yellow, more for it's feeling of optimism and energy than anything. I did NOT expect to then start writing about poop, mustard yellow breastfed baby poop to be exact, and to consider how this might be an even more apt metaphor for my day, or some part of my life. I'll let your imaginations run wild here... but let me just say that I still see it as a positive metaphor and not a dank, yucky, stinky one, for as mothers of newborns can testify-- breastmilk poop does not hardly smell at all, relatively speaking. But I'll stop here, since I'm not in the mood to go too deep into any one topic here for now, it seems. You'll just have to wait till next time, perhaps, to read my full-on poop metaphor.

And now, the cat is demanding to be fed. I have half an hour left, so I guess I'll go please my family and prep dinner. Till next time, dear readers, bear with me.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mother, Uninterrupted: A List of Things I Want to Do During My First Weekend Alone Since Giving Birth

My weekend alone has officially begun. Cedar and his baba are off to stay with Grandma in Olympia, and I have the good part of two days and one night to do ANYTHING I WANT. UNINTERRUPTED. Without a ticking clock at my back counting down the minutes until I will need to be on duty again (at least not yet, anyway). And so what WILL I do exactly? The choices are abundant. I know I will not get to do everything on my list, but I will be satisfied if I manage to accomplish a key few. Here are the possibilities:

  1. Clean. Okay, this obviously should not belong on this list, much less be at the very top, but it must be mentioned (especially since it is the first thing I proceeded to do once they walked out the door). I did the dishes, wiped down the counters, took out the garbage, swept the kitchen floor, picked up clothes, put away toys, wiped off the dining room table, organized some mail, and made the bed. All in a normal day’s work. It only took me 45 minutes probably. And worth every minute. I cannot relax, much less settle into a weekend of writing and personal indulgence in the midst of a messy house. I am not a perfectionist (there are layers of grime beneath all my surface cleaning), but I DO enjoy uncluttered surfaces. And the beauty in this cleaning session today is that: IT WILL NOT IMMEDIATELY GET MESSY AGAIN. For the rest of the weekend, I will only need to pick up after myself—and since I am generally a fairly neat person and do not throw my food nor dirty underwear (well, okay, sometimes underwear) on the floor, that means that I will not need to clean again for two days.
  2.  Halfway into my cleaning session, I turned on some music. Angus and Julia Stone is my most recent beloved discovery. I will continue to remember to listen to music all weekend long, and really listen, not just have it on in the background in short bursts and starts.
  3. I WILL WRITE. This requires the use of capitals, for it is the most important goal on my list. I will write this short blog post, and then I will work on my Epilogue and Introduction and line editing for my Searching for the Heart Radical manuscript which I am slowly gaining on, inching towards completion with a capital C. And then I will plan for my Writing Motherhood workshops. Sink into the syllabus again and finalize some choices for prompts. (Although lesson planning is very different than writing, I will keep it under the same category here because it draws from the same creative energy and sustained focus of presence that my writing needs). I will attempt to do all of this in two or three good sessions. Right now, maybe tonight, and definitely for the better part of tomorrow morning and afternoon. The idea that I can actually sink in for more than 2-3 hours is absolutely delectable. I’ve gotten so used to working in short hurried bursts that I have almost forgotten what it feels like to work for an entire day (or 5-6 hours, which is about what I used to consider a “full day” of writing before the brain would burn out and need to go outside and move the body).
  4. I will drink coffee. I have stopped drinking coffee again because it still gives Cedar gas, even though I seem to have forgotten this fact for several months (because I’ve needed my coffee … which leads to more gas and poor sleep… which leads to a heightened need for coffee… in an endless cycle). Well, I finally went off it again and lo and behold, Cedar’s been sleeping way better! But today, I will drink it again. And it should help my foggy brain that indulged in a bit too much wine last night, knowing I’d have the ability to sleep in today (thank you, dear husband), or even take a nap!
  5. I WILL SLEEP WHENEVER I WANT, UNINTERRUPTED. This also needs the use of capitals. I have not had an undisturbed night of sleep since my early days of pregnancy. Yes. You heard me right, it’s been about two years now. And although Cedar’s night wakings are less frequent and disturbing than they used to be, I still cannot emphasize enough how crazy strange wonderful it will be to actually sleep all night long without waking (if this even happens; perhaps my body is so programmed to wake now that I still will). Yet even if I still wake, I am quite sure I will get a good night’s rest and wake with a near euphoric feeling in the morning-- whenever my body deems appropriate. (But hopefully not too late so I can still make good use of the early morning hours to write).
  6. I will shower and shit, uninterrupted. Um, there is not much more that needs to be said about this. Moms, you understand.
  7. I will go outside and enjoy the sunshine and our yard. Maybe rake up the last of the leaves (that are currently killing our moss), relishing in this simple, hearty chore that I used to quite enjoy, but that I don’t so much now because when it’s a choice between chores and everything else that there is never enough time for, it is hard to be all zen and enjoy chores. And it is extra nice that we happen to be having this warm, sunny weather in February! In Seattle! Right after a snow storm. Inspiring gentle feelings of mild, sweet euphoria to rise inside...
  8. Perhaps I will call one of my dear friends whom I have not been able to have a proper uninterrupted conversation with in way too long. But if I don’t, I know they will understand, because enjoying my time alone is going to trump any desire to be social.
  9. I will stay up as late as I want, and do whatever I want at night, and make as much noise as I want. This might look something like: an open bottle of wine, blasting music, lit candles, and me ripping out pictures from National Geographics for a collage (which probably won’t get glued down for many weeks or months, but that’s okay, because the ripping out stage is an important one, that is: simply feeling which images resonate within, right now, for whatever reason, without analyzing or discriminating. Then later, you can sift through them, weed out the weaker ones, and start to arrange them on a page. They will begin to speak to each other of their own accord; there is no need to try and influence or dictate).
  10. OR, perhaps I will be tired at my usual 10 or 10:30 and decide instead to just crawl in bed with a book. Did you hear that? CRAWL IN BED WITH A BOOK. Another long abandoned primal pleasure that I have not gotten to indulge in since I was pregnant (and truly, not much since getting married since my husband used to always complain about the light). It just so happens that I’m sinking into a good love story novel right now too. Ahh… in many ways this choice feels even more sinfully delicious and subversive than the idea of drinking wine and making art.
  11. I’m not sure if this time will fly by really fast (because, let’s be real, it’s only a day and a half, and truly, I deserve a week of this kind of retreat). But I suspect that because of the way I have been living—that is, in perpetual service to another, “instantly interruptible, responsive, and responsible" as Adrienne Rich once put it, and with a dogged, yet often disappointing determination to carve out for myself the basic minimum of time and space that I need to feed my soul, my passions, my mind—because of how hard I work, and how much I have sacrificed in the name of motherhood and unspeakable crazy love for my son, I suspect that I WILL ENJOY EVERY SINGLE MOMENT OF THIS TIME ALONE. That I will not be able to do otherwise, even if waves of melancholy come over me, because this gift of this weekend truly is that overdue and appreciated.
  12. And as I write this now, still listening to Angus and Julia Stone, I already feel those first stirrings of tears that very likely will be released this weekend. Because tears have always been a natural part of my cycle, but since becoming a mother, I do not have the time to sink into that part of myself enough to cry, it seems. And I wager there are some tears in there that are long overdue. Tears of gratitude, tears of self-compassion, tears of reckoning, and tears of prayer.

If I allow myself the gift of crying, you can bet that I will also be crying for my baby, for my son, for my huge huge love for him, AND for my huge huge gratitude to have this time apart from him, if only so I can experience my love for him from another perspective. That is-- from the perspective of also honoring how much of myself I have offered to him, how much of myself I have poured into him, how much of myself I have let go of, re-birthed, and allowed to be molded and reshaped by this transformational experience called motherhood.

Motherhood is a blessing, and yes, it is a sacrifice. It is a hero’s journey, a path of responsibility, resilience, and passion like no other. It is hands down the hardest AND the most amazing-illuminating-rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

So here’s to motherhood, here’s to me, and here’s to ALL of the mothers out there, working their asses off and deserving a whole lot more recognition and rest than we get.

Mothers: may you keep asking for those elusive yet so deserved pockets of time and space that you NEED-- whether it be a moment to breathe at the end of the day, or your own personal weekend retreat. And everyone else: may you bow down and conspire to aid in this task. May you remember to honor your mother.


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