I’ve had so much trouble writing about my life… I have to admit that the stress level has been pretty high at times during my 17 months as a new mother. It’s not anything that I want to change or give up. It’s just circumstances, and those are always changing anyway, so I don’t worry about it. It’s just been a completely different kind of unfolding than I had imagined. Most of it relating to working while being a mother… The artist in me had imagined documenting in words and images the many things I was going to experience in my early days with you.
Then you hollered for several months straight… and I had scheduled work pretty quickly into my new mother calendar. Looking back, I can’t imagine what I was thinking… but at the time I had believed that it was the perfect situation for a self-employed mother. I had it all planned out… and it might have worked well, if only…
I know I don’t have to fill in the rest of that statement for anyone who’s a parent, but for everyone else, I just want to say that life has a way of smiling at your plans. I found myself swimming in my work, and struggling to find my footing as a new parent. I was definitely enjoying every moment, but it was accompanied by some pretty high stress levels just to manage coping with very little sleep in order to fulfill all of my commitments and roles I was playing. The blissfulness I was experiencing had linked arms with stress and they came as a pair.
One of the curve-balls for me was the fact that, even though you hollered for several months, you seemed to not want to be held. You really only wanted to be bounced in your little bouncy chair or swung in our tired arms for hours on end. It was a very far cry from my fantasies… and I was rarely finding the time to take any photos of us let alone write anything down. So our relationship has been beautiful and unique… the love I experience daily is incredible. Unlike anything. It’s changed my mind, my emotions, my physiology and my chemistry. It’s the thing that’s kept me rooted in happiness while the stress levels go through the roof. Such a funny combination…
While I was getting used to your individual needs and acquainted with your personality traits that I saw repeating and then changing and then transforming, I found myself laughing at my expectations of motherhood and my fantasies of what my relationship with you would be like. You were not one to be very touchy-feely, although you have a very delicate manner of holding things in your hands. You most often would let me get in one or two strokes of your hair while you were nursing before you push my hand away. I rarely felt the feeling that I thought was a given with babies… that of my little one relaxing in my arms for a cuddle or just to feel the closeness of a mother. You were always too busy moving on to the next thing to explore and discover, returning only to nurse. It was the only time I had you in my arms it seemed after a while…
But lately I’ve watched another trend emerging, synchronized with my emotions it would seem. One day recently, I had a particularly difficult time getting you ready and out of the house for an appointment, and I was rushing your tendency for slower transitions and desire to explore as much as possible. When I finally got you into your stroller and was feeling pretty cranky and poor in my parenting, you looked up at me and said I LOVE YOU for the first and only time thus far. It was one of your first sentences and made me melt and feel grateful and inadequate all at once. My mind tried to brush it aside, rationalizing that you had started repeating words you heard us saying, but looking back now, I see the look on your face clearly, and know your intention.
Then recently I’ve gone through a particularly low time. I’ve felt like a failure as a parent… like all of the things I want to do and all of my visions of the way I want to be… all of the artistic and creative components of my life and my parenting are all sitting unfulfilled while I work and tend to dailiness. I have such a desire to live my rich, creative life that when I see time slipping by without much of it happening I begin to feel blue. I begin to doubt. I feel like I’m failing you.
And then I began to worry about what I was perceiving as your serious demeanor. All that hollering. All those serious furrowed brows. All that lack of wanting physical closeness. All that flailing. All that crying. Because I was feeling so blue, I was worrying that I was inadvertently creating an environment where you would pick up on my emotions as your own life experience. I didn’t want to give you a home where blue was the dominant state of being… All of these emotions were topped the last few days by you being sick, and teething, and not sleeping well. You’re always so sweet and gracious the few times you’ve been sick. You just roll with it, and wander around a bit more tired and slow and don’t spend your time exploring everything in sight. So we bundled up and went down to the ocean. You walked around on the sand and looked at the rocks which are your favourites lately… rawks! You sat on the beach and I watched you push your hand into the sand for the first time and feel it slide off one grain at a time as you lifted it out. You gently picked up a small stick and started drawing in the sand. You explored the shoreline and then we were cold so headed for home. It began to rain.
And just like that… when we got home, as if in response to my recent worries and heartbreaking feelings of failure, you flopped down on the floor next to me…
and headbutted me. grin.
and then slapped my head. grin.
and then pulled my hair. grin.
ouch. sweetie that hurts. gentle please. that hurts. could you be more gentle please.
so you crawled right onto my stomach and stared down at my face. then without a blink you leaned down and kissed me for the first time. full on the lips. then pressed your cheek against mine and stayed there for a few seconds. then repeated this about 10 times. it was the most intentional bit of love my heart has ever felt. I’ve never encouraged you to do anything other than explore and play and do whatever your heart desires that is safe and fun for you. I’ve never asked you to repeat the normal social gestures of waving, kissing, hugging, or even repeating things on demand like thank you. I think you don’t experience the true worth of something by being told to do it. I think the true value comes from watching and learning from those around you why people do the gestures they do, and then adopting them if you’re so moved.
I know your kisses and cheek presses were genuinely your own expression of love… which makes me feel all the more grateful for your sweet gesture. I’m not feeling blue anymore. I’m feeling like this was the best day of my life. Easy and gentle and genuine… I love you too, my beloved a.