Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Goodbye Blog: A Final Post

Oh blog, we have grown apart… I think the time has come to part ways – to say thank you and goodbye.

I first sat down to write a blog entry (days after finding out what a blog was) when my first baby was about 5 months old.  It was the perfect outlet for my compulsive sharing needs.  Personal boundaries have always bored me and over-sharing is (usually) my preferred method of communication.  Life is weird, and beautiful and terrifying and lonely and absurd – how HOW can we keep all that to ourselves?!  I can’t.  If you walk by me and casually ask how I’m doing, 8/10 times you are going to get the lengthy true answer.  Why save that only for my closest friends?  Sometimes an acquaintance is a close friend you just don’t know yet until you bond over the weird graphically homicidal dream you had the night before.  Or not.  It’s a really quick way to find out.

At the time I wrote my first entry I was treading the chaotic waters of deep love and sleep deprivation that had become my life since Ava Soleil’s birth.  After relocating back to my hometown while pregnant and leaving behind a group of friends I adored and my body exploding with human, my life felt unrecognizable.  With the birth of Ava Soleil my life exploded outward – all of my energy revolved around her care, around finding a community to nest our lives within, around trying to make her stop crying.  And over the years extroversion became my coping mechanism, how I secured footholds in the unfamiliar terrain of my baby-fied life.  It was fun, really fun.  I found friends that were as transformed and horrified by the shockingly beautiful and often repulsive world that is motherhood.  And then the very thing I most resisted began to happen, the me I knew before slowly evaporated.  But that was surprisingly OK!!  I embraced it and dove so hard into that phase of my life that I truly feel I squeezed every drop of joy out of it.  I wrote about my girls and I photographed their every breath. I knew I could not afford to stay home with them forever, and not work part time forever either, but I was going to push the boundaries of what we could afford and live inside that rapidly disappearing chapter while we had it.  And I am so thankful.

Six years later the reality of that first child is just starting to sink in.  While I laboured her birth, I wondered, REALLY?  Is there REALLY a baby?  Is this baby REALLY going to live with us?  All the time?!  I sniffed her, I touched her perfect skin, and I held her endlessly and still I felt that surreal wondering – am I REALLY this lucky? 

I feared the worst in every scenario, the million and one ways I could possibly lose her.  The crushing thought of ever being without her, having more to lose than I dreamed.  I will now forever live with a morbid Mother Brain.    

And then I was lucky again to have another – all with her own story.  A story I am not sure I could have processed without doing so here.  A story that I still feel I am “coming down” from, though in more subtle ways now. 

I have so much gratitude for those who read her story as it was unfolding and offered us their love, support and humbled us with their help.   Thank you. 

For months I have been growing accustomed to a new sensation.  My life is slowly expanding, allowing more room for… me!  I am reckoning with who I used to be, who I became for a while and who I continue to evolve into.  This parenting gig – this wild privilege, this grueling, relentless task, this gorgeous gift doesn’t visit you without leaving some scars and some strange new growth.  My task now is to arrange it all into a composition I can call my own, as it continues to shift, always in new directions.

I feel my babies growing swiftly.  Where delightful rolls used to curl in my lap, now there are sharp knees and pointy elbows folding around my neck.  I kiss at the full cheeks of my youngest, committing them to memory as they grow lean before my eyes.  They are always taking bigger and bigger strides, with their lengthening feet further and further away from me.  Always so intimately mine, but more so every day, growing into theirs.  It is a strange grief, a muted colour edging the bolder colours of gratitude and hope I carry in every heartbeat for them.  I look to the future with so much excitement for them – and for me.  Just as they grow more into their own, I once again have the opportunity to do the same.  It is different than the ever expanding opportunities I felt before their arrival, but I see possibilities…

I feel, at the root, the same as I did when I wrote my first post – deliciously in love with my life, and at the same time scrambling to adjust to the new kilter. Six years ago my toes were over the edge and I was just about to fully submerge into Motherhood, and for me, it was all consuming.  I felt a distant sense of panic – knowing that she would do nothing but race toward her own independence, I feared I would lose all of mine… that I would be left clutching only a shred of autonomy when she finally packed her bags and moved out for good.  It is a frightening feeling teetering at the edge, about to fall, into... what?  But I am glad I surrendered and soaked it all up in my own way.  And I am glad to be re-emerging.   

But for now I am done writing about it – here in this space.  I want to allow energy for playing with colours, translating the images I have collected in my mind into shapes on a page… and writing maybe about other things… I don’t know yet, I am playing with the possibilities that dot the horizon. 

I want to mark this final post with a little snap shot of life today.  A life I would never trade for anything, and know I will remember fondly – this precious time.

Each new day begins with a small person invading my exquisite sleep, always earlier than my optimistic alarm setting.  After they have clamoured into the warmth of my corner of the bed with their cold feet and long limbs they decide to wake me up with their amazing morning thoughts.  Before I have time to think my own, they are telling me theirs.  Delivered via stage whisper – wetly and directly into my ear.  Some mornings it is both of them and both ears are assaulted at once.  But usually it is one followed several minutes by the other and I relish the few moments I have to snuggle and sniff them individually. 

Here are some of the recent morning stage whisper wake ups:

Hello PERSONALITIES!  GET IT??  You’re a person?!  And you have a NALITY!! 

You got a bum Mommy.

I’M HEWE!

Why you sleepin?

I want some waisins.

You willy cozy.

What day is it?  What day is it?  What day is it?

Mmmmm, you’re warm as a summer day!

HOW MANY DAYS UNTIL MY BIRTHDAY?  (asked the day after her birthday)

I GOT NO SOCKS ON!

Did you dwaw me a pictuwe pwesent Mama?

You rembew when I used to be a COW?  But I sposed to be a dog?  That was silly.  

Wow!  You are warm. You are as warm as Cuba!

Hey Mom!  Mom!  Mooooom!  We both love you chother.  WE LOVE YOU CHOTHER!

WHY YOU SLEEEEEEEPIN?

MY TOOTH IS WIGGLING!  Seriously!!  MY TOOTH!  IT IS WIGGLING!

I love my Cwicky Boy!  (Lucy loves our puppy Cricket more than anything on earth)

AWE YOU MY MOM?  (She has asked me this a shocking number of times)

I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU!

Cuddle meeeeee!

You awe my mom.  



Thank you blog.  Goodbye.




Thursday, May 8, 2014

Welcome to WHAT?

Today the rain is drenching my garden, drawing the deepest, most vibrant colours to the surface of every leaf and petal even as the soft grey skies quiet and dull them to a wet May hush.  The baby sleeps and the biggest is off at school, living little details I will never know because "good" and "nice" and "so-so" is what she usually has to say about that.  



And in these little quiet spaces, it occurs to me - I hope I remember this.  Some weeks I work over 70 hours, patch-worked into odd schedules so that I can be home with m'ladies from Monday to Friday.  The days "off" sometimes feel like breaking the surface only to take a wild gulp of clean, sane, loving air before sinking again into the chaos.   

Every so often I feel a sense of alarm at how rapidly it all races by.  When did my sweet little girl turn into a long, lean-limbed school aged kid?  When did my baby start talking in sentences?  Everyone says it goes by so fast - but - it goes by so fast!

And so I hope I remember all the lovely little things.  This base-level happy, full-heartedness that exists in each day, because that is what they bring to it.  Even though that contented, deep-rooted lovey feeling of LOVE-on-bath-salts can splinter in a nanosecond into a thousand shards of irritated desperation by one little supposed-to-be-asleep voice, "Mamaaaaaaa?" But as soon as each miniature crisis is calmed and sanity is somehow restored, it is there again - the hum of happy love rushing through it all.  



I want to remember her at five.  How deep in the crook of her neck, if I sniff deeply I can still catch the faint smell of her babyhood.  How she adores me as much as she is indifferent to me as much as she is outraged by me handing her the milk for her cereal, "WHAT?!  Do you think I can't do ANYTHING?!  DO. YOU. THINK. I'M A BABY?!"  



"Watch, Mom.  Mom - LOOK!  Mom, did you see that?"  Mom - mom, mom, mom forever.  Some days I feel like I stand at the edge of a precipice and if she calls my name one more time I will disappear into the endless vortex of her need.  And other days, I can not get enough of her.  I can't stop noticing how beautiful she is, how sweetly her spirit shines through every articulation of her little body.    

Yesterday we visited her new school - where we will arrive in September and launch her off into her own private world.  No more drawn out mornings, wondering what we will do with ourselves today (not that they feel particularly leisurely, though I suppose they are).  We will be rushing somewhere, always.  No more together all day, save for the 9 whole hours per week she spends at preschool.  No more sisters together for all of the day.  No more "special Mommy time" while the littlest sleeps.  No more life as we have come to know it.





Standing here, in the kindergarten waiting room, knowing these months ahead are full of "lasts" I am full of gratitude.  For every nearly impossible pretzel shape I have twisted myself into to afford my priceless time with her.  Every odd-houred job I have accepted, every wonderful job I have turned down, every house we have chosen not to buy, every conversation that lead us back to the decision to just be with her, with both of them, as much as I possibly can.  I hope it has soaked into her being as much as it has mine, I hope that she is keeping it all, on some level, somewhere with her.  It is my daily practice to "tuck it away" - the hilarious thing she said, the rawness of her truth, the beauty of her in the moment.  

I will be busy, the baby on my hip, a steam scalded hand stirring at the stove, compiling lists in the back of my mind while she brushes up against me for a squeeze or says, "I just love you, Mom." Or, "Mom?  Everyone is different and that is OK with me, and I'm just wondering WHY, when people have an injured brain WHY do they forget to swallow their spit sometimes?  HOW?  Is it OK Mom that I'm asking you that?  I need to ask that."  And I can't put the baby down or let the meal burn, but I tuck it away and hope it survives, lasting inside of me, the purity of her, the enormity of my love, the simplicity of our relationship - because that will change.  I just stand there in the moment with her and try to be there, knowing it is vanishing as I breathe, knowing it was a gift and hoping I am able to properly accept it.      
  



While we sat in the gymnasium yesterday, listening to her future teachers talk about their intention to begin raising our daughter now, along with us, I felt the grief of letting her go.  My first.  My baby.  I felt very much like a first-time parent again, that unsettling realization of the enormity of the responsibility.  Wondering if we will all survive it.  I felt the same ache I felt as a raddled new mother with a my first tiny baby dependent on my breast, the reluctance to hand her over.  

And, I felt the quietly building excitement of her many firsts waiting for us, just around this corner.  Thank god, because holding in all that grief was beginning to make me gag.  My husband, sensing my many feelings, leaned over and begged me not to embarrass him.  And I really didn't want to be the only mother sobbing at Welcome to Kindergarten and create a reputation for our crew before the first day of school.  

I know she will be fine.  She will be more than fine, my wonderful, morbid, intense, creative, intelligent, talkative, imaginative, bizarre, noisy five year old love.  And I will be fine too.  



It is the endless push-pull negotiation of the heart that is motherhood.  She will always be the force drawing out my vibrant colours, even as the passage of time quiets me to a gentle hush.  And every moment between now and then I hope to be able to stand there, inside the moment with her, wherever she is, holding her close while letting her go.

But for now, we will live our spring and summer of lasts, before we launch into so many firsts.  And I will continue to tie myself in knots to be with her, because nothing is as happy as unwinding myself… in the backyard, laying in the grass, listening to the strange tune of my awesome yodelling child, while she still begins most sentences with the word, "Mom?"    


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Still my Favourite

He's so private, I never write about him.  But, maybe he'll let me this time.

Months ago it occurred to me - Oh!  Remember?  Reading in the bath!  Remember that?  Oh… so, so dreamy…

Motherhood launched me, hard, into a new reality.  One that created a thousand new favourite things, but also left out a few beloved favourites of my former life as well.  Like reading in the bath.

Motherhood of two just launched me harder, faster and farther.  Again, with even more heart-busting favourites created (the oldest singing to the littlest), while a few more favourites got slashed from the realm of possibility.  Like talking to my husband.  Oh, how I miss it.

Pre-children one of my regular lines whenever we were snuggled up cozily together was, "Oooooh!  Imagine if we were in a TENT RIGHT NOW?!"  Because that would be combining two of my favourite things and creating an Ultimate.  If we were snuggling away the "busy-ness" of our former lives (we didn't know yet that we didn't know what busy was), and just being… together, I was thrilled.  But if I could take that coziness and raise it a tent on a secluded beach?  I was blissed.




Now I settle happily (because I assume this is temporary?) for a high five at the end of the day.  If we have enough energy to raise our arms for that long after 7:00pm.

All of our babysitting time is used up on working or errands.  I took a job during his days off to maximize my time with the girls and minimize money spent on childcare.  We now solo-parent for much of the time and have precious little time without an offspring adorable child present.  We are two ships high-fiving in the night.  

And so, from so-close but so, so, so far, I find myself admiring him, vaguely wondering what it would be like to have the energy to have a complete conversation with him.  We sure used to like doing that.   (This is what I do when I'm not busy being annoyed at him, because lets face it, our current pace of life is fertile ground for seriously?).

And I feel compelled to create the bullet list.  And I don't even know yet what I'm going to type but I am certain that most of it is going to be dad-related.  Because that's where we are at right now.  And he is the best.  

Why He's Still my Favourite:

* By the time our first was 2 only he could wash her hair (according to her), because it was their thing (according to him).

* Soleil's first sentence at 16 months old was, "Coffee with Dad?" Because Saturday morning strolls to the coffee shop was their religion, because sleeping in was mine.  Bless them both.

* He makes me laugh.  So much.  And he always gets it.

* Because he has this really weirdly amazing herbaceous smell.  Like cilantro.  I love cilantro.

* We actually argue, and he puts up a good fight and I don't always win, about who gets to comfort the children when they have night terrors.

* Because he has a very special thing (that I'm very jealous of) with Lucy that lulls her into an agreeable state for bedtime.



* He and Soleil have their own little language they speak.

* Because he deals with all the vomit.  Always.

* Because he gets it done.  It never matters what it is.  It is not always done my way (almost never) but it is done and done well, whatever it is.  For him, for me, for the family.  He does it.

* Because he gives the greatest hugs.

* Because I'm fairly certain I could not have birthed either baby without him nuzzled into my neck telling me that he knew I could.



* Because I practice WWHS?  Whenever I get stressed and I can't actually speak to him I ask myself, What Would Hubs Say?  and our imagined conversations calm me down.

* In fact, if I can't come up with a good imagined response (a WWHS failure) I just picture his face and I calm down.  Just the image of his disembodied head floating in my mind's eye is calming.  That is a like a super power.  (His super power for being so calming that I don't even need to imagine the rest of his body or mine for having such potent visualization skills?  I can't decide).

* His obsessive nature.  When it isn't driving me NUTS it sure gets a lot of shit done around here.

* Because he kisses them as much as I do.

* Because I never had to ask him once to clean a single item of pumping equipment during the eternal year of pumping for Lucy.

* Because of everything to do with him and Lucy's eternal first year.



* Because he has a very specific strategy for covering Lucy with a blanket at night that he does not tolerate being violated, it is equal parts OCD neurosis and Dad Instinct combining to create some kind of Crazy Super Dad ritual.  I love it and spy on it regularly.

* Because I find myself constantly craving dates with him, even though that kind of thinking is wishful these days.

* Because he keeps trying.

* Because the girls adore him.


* Because he's there.  Always.  And I know he will be.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Solace

When their blue gazes swim into my own, we begin reeling back in time, and forward, catapulting from forever to always before we blink.  I remember life without them, except, did it really exist?  Were they always there?  I think yes.

Not every dividing mass of cells finds a joyful place to explode into eventual personhood.  Each story filled with complexities as different and similar as the women who would tell them.  

Right now I think of the leagues of women who have been battered by the cruel hand that snatches back what they have so longed for, what they have never even held, what they have cradled and had to let go…  An unthinkable torment.

Rarely have I spoken about my own early losses.  Always needing to qualify: early.  Though sometimes blood is on the tip of my toungue, how I had to flush it all away.  Each time a hot rake across my heart, and how the anger swelled inside my brain, the pressure cutting off my breath, my words.  And finally, perspective would cool my bitter fever… and I would think about the women who lost so much more than blood.  Still I had no words, unsure of where to place my experience within the collective, commonplace tragedies that women have been bearing, like warriors, since forever.  Each one, with her own scars that only she knows.  My hope for each one of them is to find her solace wherever it might be hiding.  Be it in the showing and telling of her scars or her own private ceremonies of the heart… I wish her peace. 

For days all I can think of is a woman I know, not even well, who has carried and tragically lost her sweet babe. 

I think and think of her…  


When she was a young girl, so new to this place, with her hair whipping in the wind, racing down the beach, tossing her laughter up to the gulls ~ she could almost see them…

When she slipped her hand into larger, loving hands ~ she could almost feel them etching themselves into the fine lines of her small palm.

When she was alone, small in her quiet bed ~ she sang and sang to them.  Each day on this earth the songs more her own.  Only later, knowing finally, there is no distinction.

Her child-growth so mighty a job, the earthly moment became her gravitational pull, the force obscuring them from her view.  She straddled her first world and this one for only a breath in the span of a lifetime.  The reminder of origin stirred only by the blessed weight of the babes upon her breast.

There, in those precious few moments of new love collapsing in on itself does she remember and know again the love of an eternity.  Because our babies have raced on the beaches with us, hiding in the wings of gulls.  Our babies have nestled into the lines of our hands, burrowing paths to our hearts and far beyond.  As we rock the fragile bodies on our breasts, we hear the echo of every song we sang to them, to ourselves.  There is no distinction.  Because this love has lived since forever, we just meet it again.

And to be born with a mother’s heart is an unfair and sacred gift.  There is no mercy to the joy, nor the pain of being carved so violently by the relentless force of this absurd love.  Because not every baby stays with us, and some don’t even land.  Some fly far too soon, leaving in their wake the crushing memory of how we have loved them since forever.  Leaving us, again, listening for the echo to our songs… heads tilted upward, looking for them, always.  Until somewhere somewhere we arrive at the point where we meet them again, arriving newly into ancient love.  

…And I think of you, and you know who you are… and I am wishing with my full heart that you take your comfort wherever you may find it.  When I think of his fleeting time almost-here I can’t help but smile at his warm comfort.  The comfort you provided, all that he knew.

My love is travelling fast and hard. 



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Highlight Reel

Lucy.  More so every day you are a person.  A tiny ferociously ridiculous crazy person.  WHAT ARE YOU DOING BEING A PERSON?




On this day last year I was holding you in intensive care after your first surgery.  I didn't recognize you, sweet girl.  And you cried, and cried and cried.  I could not get you to stop crying.  And the more you cried the more blood would seep from under your freshly stitched lip and my heart would race with the fear of your sutures tearing apart.




You were so mad.  I felt so regretful like we had done something terrible to you, our perfect babe.  I will always remember being alone with you in that small room with the beeping and the constant shuffle, and your cry, cry, crying for all of time.  I bounced you on a semi-deflated exercise ball until my thighs burned and my back ached... and you cried.  And finally, I cried.  With a rubber soled quiet, a very kind nurse came and stood behind me and put her hand on my back and held it there.  "She will be OK." She said finally.  And I soaked up the comfort, but I wasn't sure if I should believe her.




Well.  It was an ugly few weeks, but turns out - she was more than right.

Welcome to personhood, crazy person.  You are 15 months old and, girlfriend, you have some sass!  And since I feel guilty about the detailed documentation in your sister's baby book,  and your total lack of baby book, I'm going to give you the 15 month highlight reel.      




Notable Accomplishments Thus Far:

** The "B" sound is BIG news round here!  We waited for it for a looong time.  You use it about 40% of the time now.  Sometimes it's "mye mye!" and SOMETIMES it's "bye bye!"

** "Dadda!"  You say Dadda!  Finally!  As of last week!  Better yet, you say, "Hi Dadda!"  Again with the "D" sound actually being featured only some of the time, but still!  And when you use your fallback "G" sound instead, we still pick up what you're puttin' down!

** Table climber.  You fool!  Climber in general.  This is something your big sis never did, so I'm a rookie with this business of toddley toddler in all the high-up GET DOWN BABY! places.  Stop it with that.

** Greatest giver of hugs.  You win.  (I love when you put your back into it and grunt "awww" while you squeeeeeeze my neck with your squishy arms).  

** Cheekiest smile.  You are trouble.  For real, I'm a bit worried.

** Biggest.  You are huge.  Awesomely so.  You are super tall, your belly is most impressive and combined with your big personality you are a giant ball of WOW.

** Fast.  You took your first wobbly steps at 10 months and you nip around like a professional escape artist now.  I actually can't catch you sometimes (only when I'm having an off day).




Favourites:

** Well.  If I do say so myself… ME!


** Crackers.  Whoa nelly I hate when I have to say no, because wowowowow you love them so much that it really fries your bacon when it's game over.

** Your sister.  And all of your other family members.  So much love you have.

** DOGS!  Your fave!  Just like your sister at your age.  Obsessed.

** Bathing.  It is not a calm affair.  Belly down, frantic kicking, face down and lots of panting.

** Standing on stuff.  If there is a thing, anywhere, that could potentially be stood on I will find you on it.  You have just launched in to full on climbing.  Again: stop it.

** "NO"  You love this word, oh you love it so much.  And so soon, why do you already love that word?

** "GOT YOU!" The game where I growl and chase you.  You ask for it by pausing dramatically in the hallway and sassing me with your cheeky over-the-shoulder-smile and saying "Got Gyoo!" before streaking away with a bunch of squealy arm flaps.

** Phones.  "Hello! Hello! Hello!" And even better, stealing them.  Again with the sass and the running away.

** Tickling your sister.  Except, you SUCK at it!  I'm sorry little friend, but you have not got this one yet.  You scratch us all up with your little crab claws and she panics when she sees you coming at her wielding the "tickle" claws.




Words!  You have Words!


You are at the stage where you try to repeat almost any word you find interesting.  It is a language full of Ms and Ns and soft G sounds because of the speech development delays, but you are nailing it with the intonation so we read your mail… we read your mail.


** "Hi Mama!  Hi Bebe!"  This you say to me whenever I come home, stealing my usual response and answering for me (whereupon I fall down dead on the floor because PLEASE!).  You also try this  manoeuvre whenever you think I'm mad at you (like after you experimentally touch the fireplace for example).

**   I always ask you - How big is Lucy? - so I can see your teeny arms stretch up beside your big toddler head.  I asked you this last week and you super casually looked at me and just said, "So big" except it sounded like "Nyo mig".  The sass in that casual delivery was out of this world.  You're too much.

** "Hi guys" you said to us the other night and your family fell over.

** "Ah bee bee!" (Apple sauce)

** "Nyuh-CAOW!" You say a bajillion times a day.  Translation: CRACKER!

** "Hi --- "  Forever with the greeting.  You are always greeting all things, "Hi bebe!" "Hi gah gah (doggy)!"  Hi fill in the blank.

** "Bye bye!" Forever with the farewells.  My favourite is when you say goodbye to the book that is still in our hands after we finish it.

** "Wow! Wooooow!" You're new here so we here this a lot.

** "Nyah-nyack!" Translation: Backpack - your confirmation that yes you would like to be strapped to my back whilst I get all selfishly preoccupied with loading and unloading the dishwasher and food prep.  I don't usually mind though, since you sing my name and rub my arm a lot while I do it.

** "MeeyUP! MeeyUP!" Your constant arms-out-stretched-insistence that I pick you up.  At all times.

** "Meeee?"  "Meeee?" Tranlsation: Pleeeeeease?  Usually while standing below the cracker cupboard and shortly before you skip the niceties and demand "Nyuh-COAW!"

… and so on… you repeat most things and I don't know which one of us finds it more exciting.




Dislikes

** Sharing.  You are so not into it.  Unless it's your idea.


** Loud trucks.  This is my favourite of your dislikes because you bury your head into my neck and whisper "Woah!" or "OOoooooooh!" and it is basically the sweetest.

** Foods that you liked 10 minutes ago and then want again tomorrow.  Why do you DO that?!

** Hard bonks.  Well who likes that?  But… if maybe you did a titch less climbing??  Think about it.

** When I put you down.  Or god forbid I leave.  Or if I arrive and we are not yet physically united.  Sorry about that, I will work on it.

** When it takes too long to get the food in your face.

** Having anyone brush your teeth other than you - HOLY DINA!

** Surgery.  I don't blame you.

Thats about it.  You like most things most of the time until ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU DON'T ANYMORE.  And then we usually try to make you go to sleep.