Wednesday, July 31

"into the arms of what we know"

The boundaries blur at the edge of our days and the hours stretch outwards in all directions. At first I relax in all that ease. But soon I am like my newborn was, fresh from the womb and desperately missing the comfort of that warm restriction. My limbs flail like his, helpless, looking for something to define my space. I carry fatigue from hour to hour looking for a place to set it down. My boys boys forget how or when to fall asleep. In the brightness of the afternoon the time for play is endless, drinking lemonade and eating blueberries, and routines are the furthest thing from my mind. But come bedtime, vacation can't hold a candle to the comforting rituals of home. We all long to lay back into the arms of what we know, close out eyes, and finally sleep.

Tuesday, July 30

"eyes made new"

I love waking up in a different space, even if it is the least exotic of places: my childhood home. Here I have a most unique perspective, that of seeing the most familiar with eyes made new by having been away. The first morning I am quietly enthralled by the fresh way in which the light lands on the breakfast table, across the parquet floor. My shutter finger rejoices. Everywhere I look there is a tableau begging to be celebrated and preserved. Is there a better combination than comforting and refreshing? Today, I believe that there isn't.

Monday, July 29

"the picture I didn't take"

The picture I didn't take: looking at myself in the mirrored ceiling of the third elevator of the second airport of the day, traveling alone with my two small boys. Baby in the carrier in front, backpack on my back, one hand on the stroller in which my toddler sits. The caption? LIKE A BOSS.

Sunday, July 28

"tomorrow is the day"

Night has fallen. The bags are packed. Almost all the items have been checked off the list. There is no more planning, no more preparing. Tomorrow is the day: my boys and I will take to the skies, to go spend two weeks with my parents in Montreal, to visit family, to enjoy a true northern summer with grass and rain, not a Texas scorcher. I would be looking forward to it all so much if I wasn't terrified about the two flights alone with the two boys. But I know that fear only lives in the future. Once I step on that plane, I will be breathing that moment, that now. It will no longer be that which I fear but what I am living through, bringing to bear all of my resources of calm and grounding (not to mention all the new toys and snacks.) I'll get to find out whether everyone is right: whether it'll be just fine.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Saturday, July 27

"with a lighter heart"

Three of them showed up to class today, heavy with baby: her fourth, her first, her second. Outside the air is thick with humidity, the day dense with clouds. Inside the studio I just turned on the AC and the room is slow to cool. The heaviness is visible on each of their faces; each of them has traveled a hard week before making it in front of me to the mat, and they all express how happy they are to "just be here." I see the relief echo in their bodies. We move slowly, steadily, breathe deeply, over and over releasing what isn't serving us. I wasn't sure it was a good idea to teach a class so close to the trip, the thing that weighs heavy on my mind, but once again being in the teacher's seat is a welcome remedy. To be present to their concerns relieves me of my own. To listen to them allows me to forget myself. And as has so often been the case, the lesson I teach is the one I most need: that, in the end, you cannot prepare for every eventuality, you can only prepare yourself. For their final relaxation I rubbed the massage oil into my hands, releasing the fragrance of rose and geranium close to their nose, each in turn, and applied a gentle touch to their necks and forehead. I went home, and, later in the day, began packing with what I like to think is a lighter heart.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Friday, July 26

"the only place I ever need to be"

We lay on the bed in the middle of the afternoon, the baby and I. I am stretched out and he is swaddled, nursing and napping. I doubt I will get to sleep. I watch shows on my phone, and when he unlatches and sighs and settles, I roll away from him, onto my stomach and into the sweet relief of my favorite sleep position, knowing it'll only be for a few minutes. Twenty's about the upper limit of how long he will go, and when he starts to fuss and flail, and I roll back in close, line up my nipple to his tiny rosebud mouth. I think back on my first son's infancy, how the story has become that he would not sleep unless nursing or being worn, though I don't really know now if that's actually true or whether it just feels true. How stuck and panicked I felt all the time, literally being sucked dry. How all through my pregnancy I swore that things would be different with this second baby. Who, growing more and more aware each day, seems to have some distinctly different ideas than mine. I think ahead to the future, next week, next month, wondering how how how will I survive this again if he doesn't, as his brother didn't, ever let go. The painful past and fearful future crowd in around us on the bed, tuck us in close, breathing in my face and down my neck, so that it's all but impossible to just be here, this afternoon, in this fleeting moment with my sweet nursing baby. Which is the only place I ever need to be.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Thursday, July 25

"no way to explain a mama's heart"

I wish that he could know how my saying no breaks my heart as much as his. I am pinned down under a nursing baby and he runs to me, snot and big beaded tears running down his face, his eyes puffy and big with fear and incomprehension, asking for cuddles I cannot give him. There is no way in that moment to explain a mama's heart, so full of love and guilt and sadness and regret and hope. I know, in a rational, adult, functioning part of my brain that this new baby is the greatest gift I could have given my family. That we will only be complete with him in our midst. But in that moment of so wanting to scoop up those lanky legs, that belly shrinking away from babyhood, that sweet sweaty mophead, and not being able to, I wonder, right along with my sobbing firstborn, What have I done, what have I done. Who is this baby filling my arms and coming between my big sad boy and I. I know in time we'll find out. But it's with a heart that's sometimes divided, and eyes sometimes filled with tears, that we wait.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Wednesday, July 24

"where you look for peace"

"I can't believe how peaceful your life looks" she says of my Instagram shot. I'm almost envious of the way my life looks in her eyes. It's all about careful framing I said, how the messes lie just outside the edges of the image. How in a picture there is no sound, and it looks like it might be quiet, but if you strain and listen you can hear the cartoons on TV, the toddler asking for more apple, the baby waking up. But I understand. Am I not relieved myself to hear of another mama, who looks so fresh and happy in that one picture, holding her infant daughter, how she struggles too? Just one glimpse into her life, that moment, led me to built a whole narrative, weave a story of her days in which she is a much better mama than I am and all around a more excellent human. Why do we do that? And why do I explain away the peace she perceived? Was that not why I took the picture in the first place? Because it was, for that one moment, peaceful? Because I wanted to honor that pause, that exhale in my day? Did I not share it to say, Yes, there is peace here still? Even if it means we've changed our definition of peace? Peace is where you see it, and you'll only see if where you look for it.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Tuesday, July 23

"what showing up means"

What does it mean to agree to show up? It means that the tired can wait. That it's almost irrelevant. You go anyway, despite all the excellent reasons not to go. If only the notebook, the blinking cursor on the computer screen were as loud and insistent as a screaming infant. All of this I chose--the children, two beautiful boys, this way of being in the world called a writer.Yet I kick back, dig my heels in so often, no no no I don't want to go. But even if I have to be dragged, I show up. And once I'm there, I'm there. My pen & paper, my two-month old son, know nothing of my reluctance and resentment. They know nothing of the difficulty of choosing again and again. They don't know that on some days it's a minor miracle that I'm there at all. All they know is my hand, my heart, my breath, my scent: there there there. And they are the ones who teach me--that showing up means everything. 

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Monday, July 22

"choose softness instead"

I caught it. The hardening towards anger, the sharp edge of sleeplessness cutting into the morning. Casting blame around like confetti. Tears welling as I poured water in a slow circle over the coffee grounds, a holy ritual to bless the day, even now, even now, coaxing the dark elixir that comforts and revives. I caught sight of that tide as it swelled, seeing it unfurl fully before me: the yelling that would soon come, the desire to hit and hurt, maybe even the hitting of things. The wave of despair and its anguished narration. Can one tired hand, a hand bedazzled with mysterious and painful bug bites acquired in the night, calm that raging tide? What if I choose softness instead? I unwrapped my shoulders from around my ears. Sank into surrender in the armchair, nursing my baby. What if I choose softness instead. Let's find out.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Sunday, July 21

"to own the space around my ears and into my heart"

It occurs to me that what I need more of in my life is music. Not more sleep, not a cleaner house, not a slighter ass or more time to write or practice yoga or to even want to have sex. Not more help, not less crumbs and dog and cat hair on the floor or a freaking half-hour window of time in which to vacuum the floor--no. Music. Loud, ache-releasing, cathartic, make-me-want-to-jump-and-run music. Songs from the 80s when I was still young and fresh and more myself than I might ever be again, something pure and true as first light. Or rainy-afternoon soft, cry-in-the-shower tender songs holding me gently like a safe open palm. My days are "mama-mama-mama" and oh shit he's crying again and the volume on the lowest of low but still I can hear the inane alphabetizations of LeapFrog and I swear they make me dumber as they are, no doubt, making him smarter. What sounds, in all of this, are my own? This occurs to me on Sunday afternoon as I cut up fruit for the week--cantaloupe pineapple watermelon--and own the kitchen with my knife skills and shaking honest-to-goddess luscious ass. MUSIC. Like I forgot in all this mess to turn on the soundtrack to my own life. I need to turn it up. Put my stamp on the day. Own the space around my ears and into my heart. Music. Yes.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Saturday, July 20

"beauty amidst the constellations"

We wake to a plague of flies. My husband walks around with a rolled-up magazine in hand, ninja-like, the way he holds his body and mind steady to successfully kill them a form of meditation. I stand wherever I am, look around me and count them, my disgust and anger mounting as the number rises. Where on earth are they coming from? I think of my uncle's house, back when he was a farmer, how it was always overrun with flies, how we judged him. As flies alight on a dirty coffee mug, on the refrigerator door, the smudgy bathroom mirror, each one underscores my own feelings of inadequacy. They must be eradicated. I want to tell the truth as precisely and simply as I can about each moment, believing there will be beauty in the accuracy and clarity of the telling. I want to believe there is beauty here, amidst these constellations of accusing flies.

Friday, July 19

"all that exquisite road and the whole night ahead"

Free. Released from the daily grip of family, the small beloved clutches of two boys and their myriad of needs, taking to the road on a Friday night, even if just to the grocery store, elated and light, a mama alone singing dancing in her car. Bobbing along to Madonna's Holiday, I wonder what I would make of that song at a karaoke night, and suddenly, unexpectedly, I'm crying. I'm thinking back two months to being in labor on my back porch, how my doula and I did karaoke back there, George Michael and Prince, to get my energy and spirits up, how good that felt in the middle of the pain. How she later said she's never seen someone move so much while in active labor. And I'm crying because goddamned if I didn't give it everything I had, how I never worked harder at any single thing in my life and still they had to cut me open again. But just as it came the moment went, went on to the next verse and there was still all that exquisite road and the whole night ahead of me.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.