Hello written word. Hello. How are you? I do hope you are fine, and swell, and that you’ve been able to have copious amounts of tea and social gatherings.
Me? Well, don’t mind me. I’ve been crawling through this pregnancy of mine like a seal on the shoreline.
Most days consist of me sitting and watching my two-year-old Alpha Male run through the house with complete authority and comfort. Some days, I do manage to clean, to cook, to do laundry, and to get us out of the house. Sometimes I even dress in semi-decent clothes and slap some color on my face.
But don’t you dare come between me and Nap Time. Nap Time is sacred. Nap Time is what carries me from 6:30 to noon most days. I gaze longingly at the clock, see that it’s only about nine, and I intercede for that high and holy hour when my son goes down for his 1 ½-2 hour nap. I tell him (beg him? No, just tell him in a nonchalant voice) all the time he can sleep as long as he wants. I’m never ready to get him out of his crib when he’s ready. “Mommy. Get out?” he calls. I lug my weight over the edge of the bed and hobble to his room. (I have temporarily become an old woman.)
At this point I have about two hours of fresh, normal energy. Dinner takes most of it. Then the dishes. Then I make the mistake of sitting down again and all hope is seemingly lost for anything else that I can check off of a checklist/tending list/goal planner/whatever the heck we use to make ourselves feel like we’re accomplishing things with our lives.
I am always apologizing to the husband. I am sorry that this house/your son/this dinner/my face is such a disaster. I am sorry I make sounds effects every time I move. I am sorry I can’t shave my legs anymore. I am sorry that all I want to do is have some fun… sleeping. I am sorry for all the things this pregnancy has done to me.
But he helps me see the world through a wider lens.
I keep our house running. Maybe it isn’t always a well-oiled machine, but it’s running.
I keep our son alive and happy. He is fed, dressed, clean (most of the time), enriched (thank you crayons and books and Legos), and entertained (thank you Blippi and Cocomellon and Rudy, our dog).
I keep a new baby in my uterus happy, healthy, and thriving for another day (thank you God for this womb that has been a safe space for not one but two people).
This is my story. This is my song.
This is why I left (temporarily?) my teaching career (in part). I wanted to plant deep roots into domesticity and the life of our home. What better way for me to do that than to grow another child while tending to the little sappling given to us three Christmases ago?
The rhythm will change tempo February 25, the scheduled due date for my caesarian that will extract my little girl from the depths of me. The learning curve will be steep. Just when I’ve learned how to survive in this zombie-like state, I’ll trade in my excess weight for constant feedings, constant diapering, and constant newborn crying. And I will do it all while a toddler learns he’s no longer the smallest being in our family, no longer the only devotion of his parents. What kind of shock will that be? What kind of earthquake will crack what kinds of fixtures that need to be cracked?
I am to be broken again: poked, carved, bled, sewn up, and sent away. I am to be run over by a freight train. I will see those dark hours again–the hours when the darkness sinks deep into the floorboards, where every shadow casts a light of its own making, where my goop-filled eyes see a tiny love in need of a great love that only I can bring. I will be desperately needed again. I will want to remember what it means to be selfish, but my heart will keep me standing, keep me pressing into that wall of fire. I will break down in ugly, snotty cries, and I will wash my face and get up again.
Because this is what growth requires. This is the journey of a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is my reasonable service as a mother.
My husband worries that I am martyring myself. We talk about dreams: PhD, moving, community, creativity, music, peace, a smaller house on a bigger lot, SUVs and lattes and writing time. But I don’t think I am, at this point. I think I am letting my dreams sleep a while. I am putting them down for a nice, long nap, where they can heal, grow, and mature. So many of my dreams have been rooted in self-satisfaction. So much of what I have created has been more therapeutic for myself than beneficial for other people. Does art always need to benefit others? Not necessarily. But in my circumstances, with all the pearls I’ve been handed over the years, all the diamonds I’ve mined through sweat and tears, I need my art, my life, to touch the hearts of others. Otherwise I will drown in the well of depression. I’ve experienced the cycle too many times now to even try and pretend that it’s otherwise.
Nesting is real, folks. If you’ve never been pregnant or been around a woman carrying a child, trust me. It is real. I’ve shut down so many moves these past few months that my husband has gotten very frustrated with me. I’ve refused to move the pieces that need to move in order for a successful chess game. But it’s all in the name of that sweet stability I desperately need.
1 : the quality, state, or degree of being stable: such as
a : the strength to stand or endure : FIRMNESS
b : the property of a body that causes it when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion to develop forces or moments that restore the original condition
c : resistance to chemical change or to physical disintegration (“the process of losing cohesion or strength; the process of coming to pieces”)
(from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
I have been a weak woman in many ways over my lifetime. Motherhood has helped me to find a firmness I never knew existed in me. It has helped me find an equilibrium and a steady motion for my life, like a young horse finding her cadence. And while I have shifted, cracked, and snapped in some ways, I have not lost cohesion; I have not come to pieces.
Stability, for me, is the least negative state of existence I could ever occupy. It is a space of life-affirmation and grounding. It is a place where I can plant roots and thrive.
My dreams are still here. But they are cloaked in the garment of stability. One day that cloak will come off. But for now, I am wanting to practice the art of being still. I am wanting to realize where I am right now is the best place for me, even if it means I’m sitting on the couch, watching my son play, feeling my daughter tumble inside me, and waiting for my husband to walk through the door–for our family to be complete again.