Perfectly Imperfect Days

I had plans today. I had a list prepared and an itinerary. We actually got to sleep in and I got out of bed with high hopes that today was going to be a good day. Today was going to go as planned, filled with smiles and laughing and jokes and conversations about trucks as we drove about town, checking things off our list one by one.

I had to let all of that go today. I had to fold my list and tuck it away for later, revise my itinerary and change my plans. Today was not the day for it all.

It started out with a battle over breakfast. He wanted cake (leftover birthday pie) and I wanted him to have something at least slightly nutritious. Half an hour later he had a small sliver of pie next to his piece of french toast with blueberries sprinkled on top of it all.

Things were going along fine as he helped me go through and reorganize my sock drawer (which a small black spider decided to run into yesterday, propelling me to either burn the contents and start over or pull on rubber gloves and go through it piece by piece). We even caught the garbage truck as it rumbled down our street, leaving the front door swinging as we raced outside to run along beside it.

And then on the way back home, he tripped in his oversized cowboy boots and skinned his knee and this turned into a 45 minute temper tantrum. No, he did not want a kiss or a band-aid. No, he would not put on socks with his boots. No, he would not put on flip-flops but once he finally did he was terribly upset all over again when I called them his lobster flip-flops (because they have lobsters one them…) and not his monster flip-flops (because apparently the lobsters are actually monsters).

I held him as he cried, as he screamed at me, as he attempted to get his way. No, I would not go outside until he calmed down. No, I would not stand up but would gladly sit and hold him until he felt better. No, I would not let him hit me. No, I would not leave.

We read a story because he saw it on the wall and wanted to read a story and we rocked in the rocking chair until his eyes finally closed and his ragged breathing finally evened itself out.

I took a deep breath and let it all go today. I let my plans go, I let me anger fall away, I allowed myself to accept that this morning was hard, that I was not a perfect parent, that this was not going to be a perfect day…except that in a way it was. It was a perfectly imperfect day of Motherhood.

Being a mother means that sometimes you have to let it all go, let your plans change, allow yourself to get angry and then forgive yourself, stick to your guns even when it’s hard, even when it means holding a screaming child, wanting to burst into tears yourself and feeling like you have no clue what to do and then just continuing to sit there and be present, to keep going. It means laying in a toddler bed, in the middle of the day or in the middle of the night, with your body scrunched around theirs, your head resting half on the headboard and half on your arm which is falling asleep and you have to pee but still you don’t move because they need you to be there so they can relax and fall asleep. And when their eyes finally close and their breathing evens out and their hand, which has been ferociously gripping the neck of your shirt, finally falls softly away, you stroke their hair with tingling fingers and still you don’t move because as you stare at their peaceful, sleeping face, you feel the tremendous love you have for them. You feel the soul shaking, heart shattering love that rocks you to your very core and you simply can not imagine being anywhere else.

This is motherhood. These are the perfectly imperfect days.

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Broken Dam

I don’t know when it happened-
when the dam broke.
A trickle widened into a crack,
brick by brick the walls fell away
until one day the entire structure gave way.
Whoosh!
The contents poured forth
washing away the divide.
There was no longer any separation
nothing dividing the halves
nothing to keep one side from embracing the other.
There was no longer anything holding them back.
The topography changed in an instant,
quietly, unnoticed even, to those not paying attention.
But to the sole witness,
it happened with a roar,
a flash of light so totally blinding
it caught her off guard and she was forced
to catch her breath,
to close her eyes, to blink,
in case it wasn’t real-
In case it hadn’t really happened at all.

Palms to sky

Tonight, I held his hand as he slept
and his hand filled my palm
and I remembered another night
when I held him as he slept
and his tiny hand wrapped around my finger
and my fingertip filled his palm
and I imagine another night yet to come
when he will hold my hand as I look up to him
and my hand will fill his palm.
My son.

We walked outside in the rain today.
He ran in front of me and knelt down in the puddle
pajamas and all.
He fell to his belly and laughed
as he splashed the muddy water upon him.
His baptism.
I let the raindrops fall upon my shoulders
and turned my face to the sky
and let the rain wash away a thin film 
from my bedraggled body.
My renewal.

Palms to sky
I stare at the blanket of stars above me
reaching out as if to pluck one off
like a piece of lint.
If only I could bring one down
and put it in my pocket
and surprise him someday
as we stand in darkness
and he tells me he is afraid.
If only, then, I could pull the star
from my pocket and put it in his palm
so he would always have a light to lead his way,
a star to guide him through the darkness
when he is afraid
when my hand is no longer there to fill his palm.

Stardust & Friendship

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Starlight sparkled in their eyes when they smiled.

Inside, the steady beat of the sewing machine kept time with the soft music playing in the background. The hiss of the iron as it came down again and again upon the small seams, pressing down, preparing them for even small stitches.
Mind-numbing is often confused with soul-opening.

Outside, they stood at the top of the hill, gazing down upon their respective kingdoms, arms linked. Warrior women. Starlight sparkled from their eyes as the bundles of stardust shone brightly inside their bellies. Their hair blew back in the night wind and the planes of their faces reflected the light of the moon.
Serenity, strength and solace found through friendship.

There is nothing in this world like a good friend.  The power of friendship to heal, to humble and to give us strength is something that surprises me over and over again as I grow older.  I am not a social butterfly and although I connect with other people easily, it is rare that I find a friend that I can be truly intimate with; someone who I feel comfortable enough around to open up and to be vulnerable.  It took me a long time to grow into myself enough to be able to let go of judgement and self-doubt and embrace the bond that is formed when you are willing to take the time to cultivate a true friendship.  It isn’t always easy.  It is scary to share those moments in life that are raw and ugly with someone who has not committed their life to yours.  It is hard to express your self-doubts and share your fears as well as admit your dreams and share your strengths.

As a mother and wife, I am thankful every day that I have a true friend who also fills these rolls in her daily life.  I am thankful that we share so many of the same qualities and interests and more thankful for the differences that make us unique and from which we each continually learn and find inspiration from.   It’s been ten years since we first spoke to each other while standing in the hallway, waiting for the class before ours to let out. We were both in college then, still learning about life and love, both at the very beginning of our journey’s.  We would be tested again and again, taken to opposite sides of the country, turn our backs on one another and finally take those first tentative steps toward the reinvention and renewal of a friendship that has flowered over the past few years and continues to grow stronger with each passing day.

Sitting back and watching our children play together, there is a stillness, a calm between us that has settled like a soft blanket.  We each watch over our respective kingdoms, sharing laughs and recipes and giving strength to the other when it is failing.  We walk the mall and sit in coffee shops and share wet wipes and diapers and tea and tips to make our lives just a little bit easier.  We work to build each other up and celebrate each other’s success and make plans that may never come to pass but are fun to think about anyway.

B~ I am so grateful that we are entering this next stage of our life together.

Inside each of them, the stardust churned and grew.  Tiny atoms from exploded starts were reborn into two tiny bundles; new universes that would bring about the next generation of stars.

Stardust

Stardust came down and filled her-
Coalescing into a tiny bundle,
a shining secret ball of glowing, growing energy
that she had to carry for nine months.

Nine months of waiting and wondering,
of loving intensely,
of dreaming and feeling heart-full
even as her heart broke open
again and again,
bursting into a thousand tiny pieces
shimmering and expanding
to clear space
to make room.

The heat can make the afternoons drag on but the days seem to be passing all too quickly. It seems like it was only yesterday that I gave Alex this hastily made Valentine’s Day card, announcing our good news:

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Now, here we are ten weeks away and I am steadily working my way through a list of projects.  I haven’t felt much of the “mom guilt” that I hear other women talk about but I am making sure to savor every moment I have with my son even when he is difficult and over tired and I walk out of his room, after putting him to sleep, wondering how I am every going to manage two.  While he sleeps, I use the time to enjoy my moments alone, knowing they will be few and far between in a few short weeks.  I spend the time reading, napping, dreaming, sewing, painting, preparing…

In my heart I am ready: ready to give birth again, ready to meet this little boy growing inside of me, ready to see what he looks like, ready to have two little boys to hold in my arms and in my heart, ready to watch our family of three become a family of four and experience what that is like.

But until October, I will be enjoying the last days that I have as a mom of one.  I’ll enjoy every hand hold and every laugh, savor each sweet cuddle, every hug and kiss, take advantage of every moment to connect.  I’ll remind myself again and again to smile and breathe when I am feeling frustrated or tired because I will never get these days back.   Each night, when he cuddles in as close to me as he can get and we read book after book, I won’t rush through them or put a limit on how many we can read.

Change is inevitable but I am ready to embrace it because it is scary but it is also beautiful.

We took a vacation!

It was too hot for poetry.

The midday sun in Texas is scorching.  It’s as if a thousand angry hands are pushing you down, reflecting off the burning asphalt and returning to pull you towards the earth.  Your whole body feels heavy.  The short walk from our car into a grocery store one afternoon leaves me feeling used up, depleted.  Any thoughts I ever harbored about the possibility of living in Texas fly away as I remember the cool midwestern breeze that blows in the afternoons.  I could never live in a place where I couldn’t take my children outside in the afternoon to let them run off all that excess energy they harbor.

In the late afternoons though, the hot sun touches my bronzed shoulders as we laze in the pool, our bodies distorted by the ripples on the surface of the water.  I relax into the two pool noodles supporting my back, my legs held up by the noodle under my thighs and turn my face to the light.  This is heaven.

In the two weeks we were in Texas, Casey became an independent, confident little fish in the water.  Using a round yellow float with ducks on it, his “floaty thing”, he jumps from the top step of the pool stairway and kicks his way over to whoever is waiting.  Such a huge change from the first day we got here when he had to be held the whole time we were in the water.  It didn’t take long- testing the water (literally) each day as he tried something new, slowly letting go of our hands, determining that he could hold himself up and return to ‘home base’, aka the steps, when he needed to.  Soon he was on his own, requesting his squirt guns and letting us know when they were “out of juice” so the epic squirt gun battles could come to a halt while we reloaded.

Taking vacations with a two year old, the very meaning of the word “vacation” changes. No longer are the afternoons spent laying around relaxing, reading a book, taking naps and enjoying time doing nothing (though we certainly fit that in).  There is another person now, someone who must be entertained and taken care of.  He does not understand yet that a vacation should be that different from daily life.  There is the difficulty of adapting to a different time zone, getting used to new rhythms and finding that balance that allows you to relax and enjoy a vacation while simultaneously continuing to be a full time parent. But it also means watching your child explore and thrive in a new environment.  Seeing the look on their faces when they see something new for the first time and discover that the world is so much bigger then what they previously imagined.

Our two weeks in Texas was the longest vacation we have been able to take as a family since Casey was born and it was fantastic.  It was a much needed break from our daily routine and a wonderful way to spend some time as a family of three before we welcome our second boy into this world and discover life anew as a family of four.

Unexpected Serenade

There are a million lessons that I have learned since having a child.

Becoming a mother has made me take a deeper look at myself.  It has forced me to asses my values and clarify the things that I hold dear in this world.  It has made me take a firmer stance on political issues, issues related to raising children and issues specifically related to raising a little boy.  I have formed stronger opinions about what I consider to be right and wrong and the things that I believe in.  The realization that you are responsible for passing such beliefs on to your children and raising them to be independent thinking, respectful and responsible human beings is a heavy burden.

In many ways, becoming a mother has made me more sure of myself even as I am forced to admit that there is so much more that I don’t know than I realized- but perhaps that is also simply part of becoming an adult.  I find that I am kinder and more tolerant towards people (except bad drivers) and while I still judge people, as we naturally do, I am more likely these days to catch myself in my judgement and evaluate where it comes from.

Some of my big learning moments come while doing such mundane tasks as folding thel laundry or driving home from the grocery store.  Driving around yesterday while trying to pick up dinner, I was overcome with the realization that I go through life constantly preparing for the worst case scenario.  Jumping to forgone conclusions and preparing myself physically and mentally to deal with the worst hand that fate can deal to me comes as naturally as drawing air into my lungs.  In some cases this is necessary and serves me well.  When we were recently faced with the possibility that our unborn son could have heart problems, I immediately did my research and was fully prepared to deal with the worst possible outcomes the diagnosis could throw our way.  I listed people I could call on when we would have to be away to visit specialists, I lay awake at night imagining what the emotional toll would be to sit in a hospital waiting while our tiny infant underwent open heart surgery, and I imagined what our lives would look like 4, 8, 16 years down the road as we dealt with any aftereffects.  To our great relief, everything looks normal and we won’t have to deal with any of that, but the realization that I was able to jump right in and stand firm in the worst muck, was an eye opener.

It is a huge relief to know that I am capable of preparing and dealing with whatever life throws at me.  It is also somewhat troubling that I do this in the daily circumstances that we find ourselves in every day as we live our lives.

Yesterday, while picking up dinner, I forgot that the restaurant was all cash so I had to run to the ATM while they held our to-go order.  I immediately imagined that we would not make it back before they closed, that I would not be able to get my son the hot dog he so adamantly wanted for dinner, or that something would go wrong as we were forced to make this unexpected trip.  I became angry at slow drivers and frustrated at every red light we were forced to stop at.  So caught up in disaster mode was I, that I almost missed the wonderful opportunity which this side trip afforded me.

It had been a long and, at times, trying day but this extra trip in the car turned out to be the reset button I needed.  For as we approached one maddening red light, I was unexpectedly serenaded from the back seat, as my 2 year old tried his best to sing along to “Uptown Funk” as it played on the radio.  Although I wouldn’t want him going around singing this in the grocery store (his annunciation of certain words needs some work), I would never have had this moment to laugh and sing with him if we hadn’t had to detour. Instead of being faced with the worst case scenario, I was reminded to stay in the moment and enjoy life as it comes.  Because if I am always planning for the worst, then there is a big possibility that I am also missing out on some of the best life has to offer.