Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Absolute Favorite Times of the Day...

    Finnegan is not a particular cuddle bug.  He always has me in sight, and he will light up the world from across the room with his sideways grin, but he likes to be off on his own, exploring, watching.  He has a corner of the couch that he naps on, with an old stuffed dog with one eye named Wizard from my childhood, my version of the Velveteen Rabbit, and a quilt made by an old friend of my mother's, Miss Flo, who he never got to meet before she passed away.  Usually I take this moment to read, or sit with a cup of tea, or meditate.  I cuddle up on the other corner with my quilt, giving him his space to move, and just watch his beautiful face, peaceful.  It gives me hope and faith in the universe, that I am exactly where I need to be at that moment, and all is well in the world. 
   He'll nap for exactly an hour and a half, and start to stir.  He'll roll over, peek up, and then put his head back down for a few seconds.  He'll groggily sit up, eyes glazed, and peer around the room for me.  Then his eyes will meet mine, and I'll get that sideways smile.  I'll hold out my arms, and he'll crawl over to me, nestle in, and nap for about fifteen more minutes.  These are the most treasured fifteen minutes of my day, along with the song I sing to him as he's falling asleep in my arms before he goes to bed for the night, a song by the Wailin' Jennys called Arlington:

Where do you go little bird, when it snows, when it snows
When the world turns to sleep, do you know, do you know?
Is it something in the wind, breathes a chill in your heart, and life in your wings?
Does it whisper start again, start again?

Where is the sun in the night?  Is it cold, is it cold?
Does it feel left behind, all alone, all alone?
Does it wander through the night, does it wait for the dawn, wish on a star?
Does it stray very far, very far? 

         In these moments, I find the answer to the elusive meaning of existence.  Perhaps it comes easily to others, and yes, I've heard it over and over again: love.  But to actually feel it, all bundled up with the opposing feelings of such intense hope, fear, longing, and contentment in those moments is nothing shy of remarkable.  I love you, little boy.


Monday, May 13, 2013

The Evolution of a Journey....

    I never knew if I would be a good stay at home mother.  I never really knew if I would be a good mother, period.  Many people, family and friends had a lot more faith in my hypothetical abilities than I ever did.  When Reid and I decided to take the huge leap of faith into parenthood, we chatted about what I would do, work or stay.  I had just completed a Master's degree in Education, was certified to teach Theatre, Biology, and Elementary school, and was at the very beginning of a promising career.  The general consensus was to give it a shot, stay flexible, and see how it went.

    The first evolution of this journey to stay home with wee Finnegan was seeing if I could keep him alive for any length of time.  This tiny bundle, who couldn't even hold his head up, couldn't focus his eyes to things more than a few feet away, and totally dependent.  It really gave me something to focus on, everything was a blur, especially with initial nursing woes.  I counted days in three hour increments to the next nursing session.  I couldn't think too much about anything because I was so focused on solving the breastfeeding dilemma, changing, rocking, adjusting to this new, mostly wonderful, but extremely difficult existence.

    The second big evolution came when Finn started moving independently.  This brought such new fear and insight into my views of myself as a mother.  Some days it seemed as though we would just get by, narrowly dodging one near death experience after another.  But, what was more of a challenge, and the biggest one so far, was how to keep this little being engaged and entertained aaalllll day, while keeping my sanity.  The days that didn't go so well, I plunged into wondering if this had been a good idea.  I heard all the voices of people I knew saying, "You're going to be such a fabulous mom, you're so creative!" and I felt as though I was failing.  Some days I was just too exhausted to think of things for him to do.  He would get, it seemed, bored, or frustrated, and start being an inquisitive boy....which would take the form of digging into houseplants or the toilet or attitude would shift for the worse, and it went downhill from there.  Reid would come home, I'd be totally burnt out, and he would let me go play piano or hike for an hour to recharge.  It was this part of the journey where I really questioned whether staying at home was right for me...perhaps being around the same individual too much was not that great a thing.  Perhaps going back to work, getting a nanny or sitter, would be better: I'd be happier, knowing that I was doing a good job at a job with very defined objectives, I could come home and be totally energized because I had missed Finn all day, and be ready to play for a few hours before bed time.  Quality may trump quantity, right?  Still, this felt, to me, as the easier way out, and I plunged into self doubt and insecurities as an engaging, creative, energetic parent.  If I'm honest, at its worst, I thought it might be better if Reid find someone else who could be a better mother for Finn.


    As I hit this bottom, and spent more than a few days really questioning what the hell I had gotten myself into, and where I was to go from here, something just recently started evolving from it.  I started finding those creative ways to engage and entertain both Finn and I, slowly, almost out of emotional necessity for survival...and I believe, it was only by sticking through this seemingly bottomless pit of self doubt, that I was able to come out of it.  I started being able to notice subtle nuances of when he seemed able to entertain himself, how it sounded when he was starting to need a little extra stimulation, and almost intuitively, start to become that mother I wanted to be.  I still have such a long way to go, but I feel this heavy cloud lifting.  By sticking to this commitment I made to stay at home with him, and pushing through what has been the hardest part so far, because it was dealing with MY issues, not his behavior challenges, I am starting to see the light.  And I would never had seen the glimmer if I wasn't in the darkness, so I have to be thankful for that.  This has been my journey of staying at home; messy, glorious, dark, frustrating, and very beautiful.  By engaging in it, and committing to it, I feel in my bones that it is the right choice for my family, and me.

    In the end, being a mother has been, without a doubt, the hardest thing, I have ever done. It has made me question our existence, ponder the state of the world and humanity, at times quite morosely, and question if I was really ever meant to fill such a large role. In the same moment, it has offered me glimpses of such profound hope and love that I could do nothing but cry. It has filled me with gratitude for the souls that we are lent for the short time we are here. I still am not close to having some of the answers I seek, but I will not, can not, stop seeking those answers. Being a mother has awakened that quest in me, and I am thankful for that.