Fingerprints

Sun hats like dappled haloes
Pulling grape hyacinth flowers off the stems
Raining through our fingers
This day of union and warmth
Of babies and sunlight and lazy limbs

I handed you a quarter as we left the shop
You love to inspect the imprint of the bird
But we still have to walk home
Holding my hand
And the coin, concomitantly
The texture of our fingerprints
And our intention
The only things keeping our full hands
Linked

Though I want your hands full
I will miss your prints on mine
And I’ll buy myself a ghost town to miss you in
Mayor, librarian, and tavern-keeper
Waiting for you to come see my new garden
And let me trace those little womb vibrations
After you are re-potted

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Your Work

Little One,

As the summer is leaking into our lives more and more, we are often in our backyard. Most of the time you’re naked and running around and happy. The sun looks good on you. But there are times when you get a sense of intense focus and interest that seems beyond ‘fun’.

I know that as a child, you don’t have a lot that you ‘have’ to do. Provided that you eat, sleep, and poop, you really don’t have a lot else on your agenda that’s necessary. Or, at least, from my limited adult view of things, this seems to be the case. But I know you don’t have this view of your life. It’s not like you contemplate your complete freedom to do nothing of consequence. You don’t say to yourself, “I’ve got the day off for the next few years, so I’ll just do whatever.” No. You have this sense that everything you willingly do is important.

Today, like most days, as I was doing my own work in the yard, you brought me rocks. You brought them, one by one, occasionally saying, “Present for Mama!” or “Surprise!” And I thanked you over and over and put them next to me. You did this for at least half an hour. Some days you don’t even bring them to me, opting to line them up on the deck and count them and tell me about their colors. (You don’t know this, but I put the rocks back in the same place you get them from so you can do this every day.) This wasn’t just play for you (although I do know that play is the work of childhood and how you explore the world). It was work. You focused on your task, dirty hands and sweaty brow and muddy feet, to do something important. I don’t pretend to know exactly why it’s important, but I know it is. And just because it doesn’t fit into my adult idea of what work is doesn’t make it less valuable.

Kahlil Gibran says that work is love made visible. Work is how we stay in tune with the earth and the seasons and each other. I only hope I can work like you do, not justifying my tasks to myself or others, but simply doing them because it is inherently good. And if your work today is bringing me pebbles, your rest is well-earned.

Love,
Mama

Fresh Air

This morning was plenty more gilded after a day to breathe. You jumped on the bed while I cleaned the room and burned pink incense with smoke like water. You asked for candles and we lit them. You asked for music by first names, as if every artist in the last half a century were on the other end of that imaginary telephone you’re always talking on. We danced to Kendrick Lamar and Brandi Carlile alike, and you fed your stuffed tortoise half your tortilla chips. I can breathe here again, little love.

February evening

You climb up on to the couch next to me
Sweetly, gracelessly
Holding onto the same fistful of cookie
You’ve been holding for half an hour
In that comic book shirt and bare feet
You hand me a red book of poetry
And pick up the crumbs
One
By
One

The orchid I planted in the corner of the room
Is dying
Though “planted” is perhaps generous
“Adopted” more like
The leaves fall off
One
By
One
I don’t move them
Some vain hope that I overwatered
And neglect will be the cure

I take a swig of rum from the bottle
Just me in the glow of the fridge
Counting the calories
One
By
One
Weighing the enjoyment
Against the weight
In my warm thighs
The softness of my belly
The soreness of my feet

River

Little One,

The big thing you have taught me is that there are no contracts. I used to believe that the way I set up relationships in the beginning was the way they always had to be. That no one ever learns anything. That changing the rules would pull the rug out from under any bond. And then, I had you.

The foundational fact of parenthood (indeed, of life), is that you grow. Everything always changes. And as you do, our relationship changes. And as our relationship does, so do I. When you outgrow something, I’m obliged to figure out something new. There was a time I could leave you alone in a room for a minute so I could pee. But you couldn’t walk then, and now you can. There was a time when you had no real consequences for anything. But you were an infant then, and you’re a toddler now. When something isn’t working, it is my responsibility to change the script until we find the thing that does.

And that has shown me the error in my old thinking. For example, when I first met your father, he and I were in such odd places. And over the course of our relationship, I became convinced that I had to do all the cooking and cleaning to be equal in the relationship to his money-making power. And that if I asked for help, or expected a normal amount of effort on both our parts to keep our life together, that I would be admitting I wasn’t capable of being equal. This was an error. But, this idea that I was stuck with whatever I had set up kept things the same for a long time. I feared that if I changed my mind, changed my expectations, that your father would feel that this wasn’t what he signed up for. Or worse, he would leave. So, this life continued, with me convinced that I had made my bed, uncomfortable though it may be, and should just lie in it. And then, I had you.

Now, I’m aware that we all change, we all grow. And as long as we continue to talk to each other, we can change the rules when we need to. Even the relationship with ourselves needs space to change. We have no obligation to be the same forever for the sake of consistency. That’s the difference between relationship and contract (This is also part of why I no longer believe in marriage, but that is a story for another day.) I want a relationship with you. Thank you for reminding me to be water, not stone.

Love,

Mama

Boundaries

Little One,

Today, the growth spurt we are dealing with the most is my own. As you tread the space between baby and toddler, I tread the space between understanding and enforcing. I know that very soon it will be very important to set boundaries, be consistent, tell you ‘no’ more often. I almost miss that newborn stage, where nothing you did was malicious or trickery, and ‘giving in’ was no bad thing. But those months are all survival and cocooning, hoping we will make it out alive. Now, it’s just that my choices matter more. My job isn’t only to smother in love and connection. Now, I know that giving in to a tantrum tells you that tantrums are a viable option to get you what you want. Now, the moment my guard is down and I’m in the bathroom crying because it’s just too much is the moment you’re climbing furniture and disassembling lamps and screaming. And I have to get it together, face you with as little emotion as possible, and stick to the rules.

I think this is why the ‘terrible twos’ seem so hard. As you change, our relationship does, too. This is where parenting really sets in. The infant stage was all about me as comfort and provider, now I’m your first experience with boundaries. And though I know your world changes for you every day, I, as an adult, am less malleable. I have a thorough enough understanding of the world to know what not to do, and I have full control over my body, which lets me do the things I intend to. You are curious, have never had boundaries before, have just enough physical capability to get in to trouble, but not enough to do what you want effectively. You get frustrated, I get frustrated.

I hope you know I am trying. Trying to stick to the rules I set. Trying to only set rules that matter. Trying not to show you how hard it is to say ‘no’ a hundred thousand times a day. I hope, at the end of the day, that you will think parenting is easy. Anything but the weak, unsure mother I am. And know that I’m working on giving you just enough structure to find your freedom.

Love,

Mama

Rise

As I can feel this season of change, I’m going to try and document what transformation feels like:

Jan 9

I’m overflowing today. This rise of power and intention in me. Spilling out bad poetry I don’t care to edit yet. Hands that feel in sync, house coming together, joy in the morning, even when my meditations don’t happen. Maybe this is the manic side my mother gave me. I can go back to the editing and the contemplation and the quiet in the next dip. For now, I’m all creation, building altars and lighting flames and walking with purpose. The winter cold is brisk but clean, and I’m nesting this place in preparation for the birth of spring. Something good is coming. I can feel it.

Jan 18

Maybe this change I prayed for is hitting me by surprise. The growing is uncomfortable and the shift seems sudden. That change that is supposed to come to you like a fog rolling in came like the flipping of a switch. Or maybe, more accurately, the fog has been building for months, and I was finally overtaken. It began with a rise, and now, at the peak, I am twitching and achy and angry at a moment’s notice. Tv barely holds my attention, the house cleaning is finished early, and I’m sitting here thinking maybe I should do something. Something that takes the edge off this itch. This lying itch. The part of me that knows I’m somehow not me and that my cup isn’t as full as I thought and my motherhood is evolving and my hands were made for spring.

Jan 29

I can feel this transformation in me. Physically as well as emotionally. It doesn’t feel good yet. It feels itchy and twitchy and achy. A slight tightness in my chest. A restlessness in my heart. Emotions spring up at a moments notice. I cry more. There’s a slight fear with it, too. Fear that I don’t know who I’ll become. Fear that I won’t have the tools to live that truth if I turn out to be someone different. Fear that I chose a tiny, entrenched life that won’t serve me the way I thought it would. I’m trying to meditate more. Meditation that just gives my heart some quiet space. Because even though I’m afraid, I know I don’t want to stop this process. And if I keep giving my soul some space, I trust it will do its thing. It knows what to do. All I have to do is allow it to happen without judgment and then see what needs to change on the outside. I will try to be calm and patient.

Feb 5

I feel more corporeal than I ever have. I can feel the pulse in my wrists, the food in my belly, the follicles moving as I pull my hair up into a ponytail. The side effect of this spiritual awakening seems to be this sensitivity to my physical self. Maybe “side effect” is the wrong phrase. Maybe once I can fully immerse myself in the fact that there is no separateness between spirit and physical, my eyes will be fully open. All of me seems to be stirring. And while we draw closer to the birth of spring, and I know I will emerge, barefoot with ribbons in my hair, now I am trying to listen awhile longer. It’s not quite time to plant yet, so I will give myself some rest. This body and this soul are getting ready together.

The thing I keep remembering from my dreams lately when I meet a wise woman/goddess/spirit guide, is she always says, “Be like water, little one. Be like a river.” I know she must say more than that, but that’s what I always wake up remembering. While I can’t say I fully understand everything that means, I have the sense of flow, of change, of feminine wisdom and divinity. A lack of boundaries, a sense of transformative cycle, the unity of the divine. I don’t know how to embody that fully yet, but the phrase repeats in my head like a mantra that I’ll one day fully realize.

Feb 15

Anxiety. That if I change any more I’ll be alone. That a previous self made this life, and didn’t make it for new me. That I’m risking everything. That I might be an idiot. Reading everything into nothing (but what if it isn’t nothing?). Wanting everything and reaching for all those wants makes me spread too thin. Feeling fragmented. Desperation overcompensating. What if I get everything I ask for and it still isn’t enough? Is the devil I know better? My heart won’t stay in my chest. Just keep talking. Don’t dissolve. Just hold on awhile longer.