Just me

July 3rd, 2013 — 9:59pm

Last night I put Sunday to sleep while Gregoire got Silas through his rocky hours. She asked to snuggle while we read, and when we were all through I tried rocking her and her little body is something new to me. Somehow in the last months of being pregnant and then with Silas, I have not held my little Sunday. We were so glued to each other, I’m astounded to feel so distant from her.

Silas is falling into the deeper layers of sleep–on his back, wearing a soft white sleeping gown, cradled between my two giant postpartum legs. Today, when Gregoire returned home late from work, he kneeled down to say hello to him. Silas responded with all the coos and smiles in the world. Love is that simple, yes? It is I am happy to see you. I am happy to see you.

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Siblings

July 2nd, 2013 — 9:24pm

In my most lost moments, I have asked, “And why did I want this?” questioning the entire enterprise that is having a family. When it is hard, it is very hard, and I cannot understand what’s in front of me, where my work is. That was Friday, which involved the toddler manhandling the baby, and the baby not sleeping.  At night, while the little guy comfort nursed for hours, I found this beautiful passage by Adele Faber, describing her grown sons whom she overheard in the next room:

It’s almost as if two forces are at work:  one pushing them apart as they use the differences between them to define their unique separate selves; the other pulling them together so they can come to know their unique brotherhood …

I know that the differences in interest and temperament that kept them from being close in childhood are still there. But I also know that over the years I had helped them build the bridges to span the separate islands of their identities.  If they ever need to reach each other, they have many ways of getting there.

What a vision of parenting and siblinghood! It is this work–the intricate labor of guiding new little human beings in kindness toward themselves and toward others, of failing and finding our way again, and being given a million chances as only the bonds of family allow, this in what I’m in for.

 

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The weather

June 28th, 2013 — 2:36pm

You will want to know the days are very beautiful in the first weeks of your new life, Silas. I can wear an indigo skirt with embroidery at the hem and a black tank top meant especially for nursing, and just slip on some old shoes and be outside. How beautiful this June freedom feels, to go out wearing almost nothing and have the air feel as comfortable as skin on skin. Especially when in contrast I have all the pulls of new life (yours and your sister’s, my own) tugging at me. I smile in the hazy sunlight coming through the giant trees, as if it is the very kindness I feel that hovers above our chaos.

This is my life right now. Shepherding these little lives through the very beginning of theirs. I’ll do that, I have thought. Be a sherpa, for these two. Live down close to life, as I understand it. Along with guiding their new lives, I am guiding my own, stuck on some level of difficulty I cannot work past, I have to say. But I’m still studying its ways, reaching, waiting for the milestone, the breakthrough.

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That was short

May 27th, 2013 — 9:30pm

Day-before-husband-goes-back-to-work sadness. I’m sad to leave the last two weeks–a newborn to marvel over together any hour, a double tag team for our toddler, gourmet meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know this sadness. It is a repeat of how I felt when he left for work the first time when Sunday was born. I want to stay together longer. That is all. I’m not ready to be alone or to do our little family solo. And I have the keenest longing to be among other mother friends. Luck for us tomorrow.

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two weeks old

May 25th, 2013 — 9:47pm

Mostly I am different now, from who I was the first time around. I studied so hard for the first baby, so earnestly. And then spent the first year of her life shedding what was read, straining and failing instead to hear what a wordless baby needed. My instincts were so buried. I did not know how to be quiet and ask and listen. But I’m better now. I can hold this newborn, warm, small, and complete, and ask with a newfound steadiness how to steer us back to calm and quiet, and mostly there is a modest answer waiting.

I want to confess to my two year old, oh the ways I must have failed you. But that is my small way, again. Open it up and I’m grateful for who we are and what we ask of each other. How do I love better? I ask every day, to find at milestones I have changed.

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1 week old

May 19th, 2013 — 8:55pm

My worries: Tomorrow, will his legs no longer furl? Will his kitten sounds have faded? Will he ever again look at me half as uncomprehendingly?

And his sweet face. Will desire ever be as dear?

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18/52

May 8th, 2013 — 9:05pm

Ten weeks ago, I wrote this:

This morning: Sunday holds on to my index finger, proud to be walking up State Street on her two feet. I am feeling doomed after seeing it is 10 am, and I have to walk three city blocks with a stroller, car seat, toddler in tow; rent a car; install the car seat; and find my out of downtown Chicago to make my 11 am appointment with the midwives in my soon-to-be new hometown.

I don’t know that that GPS will not work at all today. That bending down to anchor the car seat strap to the passenger seat will be anatomically impossible with my belly at seven-months pregnant. It is windy, and we left the corporate housing wearing light jackets, like the foolish Californians we are/were. Sunday has a cold and it is probably going to get worse, smiling though she is. Somewhere between Menlo Park and the Middle West our worldly belongings are traveling surely to us by truck. This is the thick of it, the chore of moving. Sunday will be happy the whole day while I freak out over missed appointments, and broken websites of parking garages, and possibilities of catching the virus of my daughter and how that timing does not work at all.

At the end of the day, we will make it back to the apartment, and I will crumple into the computer and cry hydrant-style over, of all things, the trailer to a documentary about mother artists—the daughter of one is asked, “Is your mommy an artist?” And she answers, “She used to be.” And there, in the heavy mix of feelings I’m so deep under, I’m brought back again to the kind of light that helped us to decided why we would leave paradise for Illinois. Whatever longing I feel for California is not as urgent as I feel toward having work, as the mothers in this video so keenly understand. I will miss the trees, but they do not send a siren call. They do not send marching orders. This interior life, next to a life with my daughter, and husband, and baby on the way, this tough, bone squeezing, life-making juxtaposition is what calls me. Here we are–a place that allows all this possibility.

Driving up the roads, so gray and cold here, I just felt very click, click, click. Whatever the weather, this is home.

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8/52

February 26th, 2013 — 12:16am
february, forest

a portrait once a week, every week, in 2013 (the 52 project)

We move from California to Chicago in twelve days. This is a hard one. We love it here, so much. These trees especially. We take with us one forest-loving two year old and our most true desires as could be determined: to grow our little family and make ourselves a home. We are banking sunlight, as if it’s all there is left to do.

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Sitting in a cold room in January.

January 30th, 2013 — 11:53pm

Because you are my second baby, and I can therefore keep my worries wrapped around your sister morning until night, I am not often enough quiet with you. You have been growing so surely for five months now, all seemingly on your own.

I want to say that sitting here with you, I’d hardly know that I was pregnant. But that’s not quite the feeling. I so very much feel the living weight of you. I feel heavy in my body, and I’m not about to do anything without checking the balance between you and me.

You are here. And in this moment I am not scared over your amazing, fragile presence. We’re here, still together at the end of a day, which is the feeling I think a mother is always trying to find or to return to after she plunges too often into fear and overreacts, again and again, to any suggestion of danger.

You are quiet in my belly, sleeping for sure. I am at work on the computer, trying to find the words.

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Hello?

October 9th, 2012 — 10:51pm

So, the writing practice dissolved in September. I had been writing every day for three months, with marching orders from Aimee Bender’s most instructive article: “Why the Best Way to Get Creative Is to Make Some Rules.”

Then, Sunday stopped napping, and though I did hold on for a good few weeks by writing at night, I simply lost the structure to our day and any kind of doing energy. Which, as it turns out, was not so much despair as my being newly pregnant.

This news was the happiest news we’ve had in a long time! With all the cloudiness we’ve muddled through in deciding where and how to set up our lives, we’ve always been so clear and certain about having another baby. This tiny little prayed-for creature sopped up every last kilojoule I had in the early weeks, and I just had to stop everything and let the astounding fatigue and nausea of the first trimester take their course. But here, at week eight now, I’m finding bursts of energy to type again, which I did not know how to come by a week ago.

I feel the fact of needing child care so heavy these days, but I keep stopping short of finding it. It is the next step, I know. We’ve made so many hard decisions so that we could afford to have a little help during the day, and now I’m afraid to get it.

I’ve been straining to hear how the mother writers who work from home are managing to have their work and their babies. I feel sometimes like a joke, because I am only starting with writing, and it’s as if I’m struggling to describe clouds, while the others are on contract with deadlines. They say write every day, through the cracks as necessary. Be kind to yourself during the setbacks. Find a way, some way to get help.

So carry on, right? I am going to daydream up a delicious schedule for us with some quiet, guaranteed hours to write, and imagine who and how this help will be.

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